Although it may just be a simple test (Facebook does hundreds of them every year) without the motivation that I’m about to assign it, Facebook is trying out a new top navigation bar setup for some users. The new format pushes the friend request icons, message icon, and notifications icon all the way over the the right hand side and cozies the search box right up next to the Facebook logo.
Here’s what the test looks like, courtesy of Inside Facebook:
And here’s the current navigation bar, for reference:
So what, right? Facebook’s just trying out something new. Well, maybe. But anything Facebook does anything involving search (or their search box, for that matter) reminds us that Facebook has been talking about getting into the search game for quite some time now. And the conversation has intensified.
For instance, Mark Zuckerberg recently said that “we’re basically doing 1 billion queries a day and we’re not even trying. Facebook is pretty uniquely positioned to answer the questions people have. At some point we’ll do it. We have a team working on it…Search engines are really evolving to give you a set of answers, ‘I have a specific question, answer this question for me.”
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg was also talking about search recently, saying that nobody has been able to fulfill the “promise” of social search…yet.
“As Mark said, I think people are surprised how much search is done on Facebook, you know, every day there’s enormous percentage of search. There’s also a promise in the market that search could become more social that we don’t think this has been met. When you’re looking for information, the question is who do you want it from, the wisdom of crowds or the wisdom of friends? Our answer is the information that’s most relevant for users is really about friends. That if I’m looking for a restaurant to go to in New York this week, I’d rather get a recommendation from a friend. That’s really what we’re working on,” she said.
Then there’s the fact that recent data has pointed that people are increasingly turning to social over search for their everyday queries. That has to be music to Facebook’s ears.
Some projections have estimated that Facebook could grab 22% of the total search market – right out of the gate.
I’m not going to suggest that this reorganizational test means that Facebook is gearing up for true search. But you have to think, that if they are developing their own product, they’d have to make it much more prominent than the current in-house Facebook search.