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Facebook Vs. LinkedIn: Why Both Are Facing a Sticky Question

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The social media companies are unveiling new search features that they hope will keep their users more engaged.

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None of these are revolutionary. Google and the Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT)-owned Bing do some of the same things, or have equivalent features. But LinkedIn isn't trying to compete with those general search engines.

From a business viewpoint, LinkedIn is trying to keep you in its world for longer, and get you to come back more often. It hopes its new search will encourage users to explore and use more of its features, and maybe even sign up for some of its premium levels.

Ultimately, it is going for a more engaged user base, one that will bring more professional recruiters and corporate human resource personnel into Talent Solutions, its most lucrative premium area.

LinkedIn will be rolling out its new search functionality gradually. If you don't see it, you can preview it in the company's blog.

Facebook's Graph Search

You've got to wonder who at Facebook is in charge of naming things. "News Feed" is peculiar enough, but "Graph Search"?

Translation, please.

Graph Search is, or will be, a way for Facebook users to search everything ever posted by their friends, and their friends' friends, for an answer to their questions.

So, if someone is considering watching the movie Cowboys and Aliens, they can ask the community if it's worth seeing. If they're connected to me, they'll see that I thought it was the worst movie ever made, period. The wider search may pull in a comment from someone who thought it was a terrific movie, although I seriously doubt it.

Presumably, that's why it's a "graph" search. If you keep connecting the dots in all directions, you'll find…well, what will you find? A variety of opinions among people you know, who happen to have registered an opinion on this topic? An interesting comment or two?

There are so many better places on the Web to get an answer to this question, and most others.

Still, Graph Search may be a good alternative for some queries. For instance, you could find out which of your connections like to go bike riding, and live nearby. Or who likes Mexican food, and would know the best restaurants in the area.

Okay, it's a stretch. Facebook is looking for ways to get users to go to it, and stay in it, making it the center of their Web activities. The company has a newly-redesigned top page, and the new Graph Search function. Both are "coming soon" for most users. We'll see how it goes.

It's clearly important to Facebook. In a company video, Mark Zuckerberg calls Graph Search one of the three "pillars" of the Facebook experience, along with the News Feed and the Timeline.
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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