Five ways to put Facebook's Graph Search to use

Facebook's Graph Search can be used to surface a laundry list of information.

Jason Cipriani/CNET

Facebook has finally finished rolling out Graph Search to English U.S. users, you may find yourself asking, "Now, what?"

At first glance it doesn't appear to be anything more than a search bar, and while that's true, its looks are deceiving. You can surface some pretty sweet information with Graph Search. Put Graph Search to work for you using one of these five searches, or by combining them to create your own unique results.

Discover friends with similar interests

Trying to find a friend who is also addicted to Candy Crush Saga shouldn't be too difficult, but finding someone who also likes to play kickball in his spare time may not always be completely obvious.

In the past you'd have to either post a status update asking for a teammate, or you'd have to go through each of your friends' profiles and look through the interests category. With Graph Search you can enter "Friends who play kickball" (or replace "play" with "like") to find some teammates.

Alternatively, you can find friends who use a specific app, or like the same movies or books as you. Try to search for "friends who play Candy Crush Saga" just to get an idea how the search terms work. Tweak the search from there by changing the app name, or by entering a company, book, movie, or hobby. And yes, you can even look up who uses the shameful (or is it shameless?) app Bang With Friends.

Connect with people from the past, or the future

Finding an old college roommate, or high school classmate you've had on your mind and feel like you have to talk with has been made fairly easy with Google. It's now even easier with Graph Search.

Using Graph Search you're able to search for people by the area they live in or used to live in, where they attended school, or even where they work. So if you're looking for a long lost classmate who graduated in 2007 from college, you could search for "People who graduated in 2007 from [college name]" (of course [college name] is replaced with a real college name) and you'd see a list of people who graduated with you. To narrow down the results you could change the first part of that search to "Friends of my friends who graduated in 2007 from [college name]." This particular search will provide a list of your friends' friends who you graduated with, but haven't connected with on Facebook.

Alternatively, if you just know a name and a city, you can search for that person's name and the city you believe them to be in. "People named Jane Doe who live in Phoenix, AZ" would provide a list of people with that name in that city. If there are no results, you'll automatically be provided with results from Bing. You could also change out the word "live" for "work" if you know where your blast from the past works.

As Sharon Vaknin pointed out in her getting started guide for Graph Search, this is also a convenient way to find dates. Try searching for something like "female friends of my friends who are single and like cronuts," if you find a match and are on good terms with the shared friend, ask for an introduction. You can also narrow down the results by including an age modifier such as "over 24."

Go on a photo hunt

Trying to find a photo of a friend or family member from a specific trip can be a pain. With so many photos being shared on the social network daily, finding a photo is actually really simple when using Graph Search.

To try out the photo search type something simple like "Photos I like" and you'll see all of the photos you've ever liked on Facebook. To narrow the list down, you can add a year to the end of the query.

Now to find photos of a friend or family member, you enter "Photos of [friend]." The photo results can also be narrowed down producing more specific results. Try searching for "Photos of [friend] from a National Park in 2011," to find the really funny photo of your Aunt Marge. You get the idea.

Job hunt

Not only can you find single people, but you can also find those individuals who make the hiring decisions at local businesses. You may not be direct friends with the person, but odds are you know someone who knows someone.

Search for things like "People who work in Management and live in San Francisco." This is a fairly generic search, which can be narrowed down by replacing the management, or city with a specific business name.

Narrow the people it picks from by adding "friends" or "friends of friends" and ask for an introduction if you find a company you'd like to work for.

Feeling lucky?

You may have noticed each time you search there's a collapsible (or always present) search refinement box to the right of the search results. In this box you can change search operators and terms, narrowing or widening a search to provide the best results. Take advantage of this box! You'll find that it gives you the ability to really refine a search in ways you didn't realize possible using Graph Search.

But wait, there's more.

At the very bottom of the refinement box you'll see a very nondescript phrase: "Discover Something New." It appears this text is nothing more than a footer to the refinement box, but it in fact is akin to Google's "I'm Feeling Lucky" button.

Clicking on the phrase will perform a random search on Graph Search, hopefully providing you with interesting results. If you don't like what you see, just click again. This is also a fantastic way to learn different search terms and categories.

The most important thing to remember about Graph Search is to use the options provided to help you refine your search and learn the search terms along with the appropriate actions that can be used when searching. Before long you'll learn what terms get results, and what terms don't.

Do have a favorite Graph Search, or a tip to get more out of Graph Search we should know about? Leave a comment below.

 

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