Lexicon and the Potential of Facebook Search

    March 23, 2009
    Chris Crum

The whole real-time search discussion has been heavily focused on Twitter, and that is certainly a huge part of it, but while it has certainly been touched upon, Facebook has not received as much attention in this area.

Facebook is a huge part of the equation. It’s much larger than Twitter (at least at this point in time), and the social network’s recent shift to Twitter-like real time updates only highlights the subject even more.

Have you looked at the newest version of Facebook’s Lexicon? Lexicon is a tool to understand what Facebook’s users are talking about on their Walls. You can use the tabs at the top to explore different trends in the topics listed in the drop-down menu. This will be expanded upon in the future, potentially opening up doors to a lot of useful data that marketers would love to get their hands on. You can look at the number of posters, percentage of posters, and number of posts regarding specific topics:

Facebook Lexicon

You can look at posters by Gender, Age, country, or by percentages of any of those:

Facebook Lexicon

One very interesting feature allows you to look at a topic by word association. For example, under the "dancing" topic, you can look at the graph for associations like moves, pole, salsa, shoes, singing, etc:

Facebook Lexicon

With "Sentiment" you can look at the percentage of posts that are positive vs. those that are negative regarding the topic in question. This information could be very useful:

Facebook Lexicon

The "Pulse" feature lets you look at keywords that are frequently mentioned in the profiles of users who mention the topic in question:

Facebook Lexicon

The "maps" feature obviously shows you the geographic data pertaining to the topic:

Facebook Lexicon

"I think Facebook has shown through this Lexicon that they have the potential to be much more useful than Twitter in terms of search and data mining potential," says Jess Stay at Stay N’ Alive.  "Because Facebook has more detailed profile data, and a significantly larger user base to read from, the potentials for useful data are so much greater, and are already proving so via this Lexicon.  If Facebook starts to provide APIs around this search data, along with the publicly available user status updates and profile data, they will be a very serious force to reckon with, that I think, regardless of the mass funding Twitter has, will be extremely tough to compete with."

Either way, the new version of Lexicon is far more interesting than the old. Depending on how much they expand on it, marketers might be seeing some incredibly useful stuff come out of this tool. You can learn more about Lexicon at the Lexicon Help Center.