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Facebook Graph Search Will Give Users a Reason to Be More Authentic

A Different Incentive For Sharing

By Published on . 8

One of the real turn-offs about social media in general – and Facebook in particular – is that sharing has become so selfish.

As I think lots of us feel as we thumb down through the feed, the pictures we see and the clever quips we read bear very little resemblance to life as it's actually lived.

Because, of course, the feed doesn't present life as it's actually lived. It presents a version of life that we imagine others will look upon favorably. A life in which us Gen X-ers lovingly and one-thousand percent engagingly create crafts with our children on a Saturday afternoon, and one in which the Millenials apparently only eat appetizers that have been sculpted into museum-ready formats.

In the context that's come to dominate Facebook, sharing is no longer a word that suggests I'm doing something for you. When I share, it's only about you in that it's about what I think you're going to think of me.

And that's why I'm actually optimistic about how Graph Search could change Facebook (and by extension all social spaces) for the better, creating a new rationale for sharing that truly is about you.

If I'm interpreting Facebook's teaser video about Graph Search correctly than you should be able to do a search like "books my friends have read in the last year."

Now if you're a friend of mine and you did that search today (assuming Graph Search was up and running) you'd see nothing from me, even though I'd be happy to give you a recommendation.

Looking for a great novel? Try Capital, by John Lanchester. Kind of reminded of Bonfire of the Vanities in that it captures the essence of a city (London as opposed to New York) at a moment in time by bringing to life a sprawling cast of characters into one coherent, fascinating story.

Maybe you're a work friend and want some inspiration for the office? Well you should read The Art of the Pitch by Peter Coughter. It'll change the way you present for the better if you do what the man says.

My point is that even though I love these books, I wouldn't share that on Facebook today because I'm censoring myself.

The first thought I have is, what would people think if I posted this? That I'm pretentious? A snob? The kind of person who wants the filtered, curated version of my life to say "this guys is well-read?"

It's all too exhausting, to think about the me I want you to see, and so I just don't share it all.

But with Graph Search what I can see is a new rationale for sharing. One that is much more authentic. Much more human. One that actually is about you.

You see, if I thought that my friends were likely to turn to Graph Search as a way to get book recommendations, I actually would take the time to go and Like the books I'd recommend. Might even write up a little synopsis and review while I'm at it.

I wouldn't feel self-conscious about it, either, because my motivation would actually be to help, not promote myself.

If we all started to share (at least some of the time) with the notion of helping our friends find an answer they're looking for, that would certainly make Facebook a more authentically human environment than it is today.

It would be a place I'd want to spend more time, and contribute more of myself to. Which for Facebook makes it the best kind of product development possible: one that is commercially attractive, and also helps people get more out of the service than they did before.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Adam Cahill is exec VP-experience strategy at Hill Holliday. Before joining Hill Holliday Adam spent eight years in the Boston office of Carat.
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