The "Promise" of Social Search Has Yet to Be Met, Says Facebook COO

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As the evidence of a future Facebook search offering continues to grow, COO Sheryl Sandberg says that search could be more social, that's what people want, and nobody has been able to fulfill that "promise" yet.

In an interview with CNBC this morning, Sandberg talked monetization, ecommerce, and search.

"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.

When asked if Facebook is building something that could compete with the likes of Google, Sandberg deflected, saying she's "not going to comment on future product launches."

CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently made similar comments, saying "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,’” he said.

Facebook, of course, has all of those users - and they're just looking for tailored answers in Zuckerberg and Sandberg's mind. Recent data from Experian Hitwise suggests that people are increasingly turning to social over search.

"The key thing here is the growing significance of social networks as a source of traffic to websites. Search is the still the number-one source of traffic, but social networks are growing as people increasingly navigate around the web via recommendations from Twitter, Facebook etc,” they said in a recent report.

If Facebook were to launch it's own search product, this is exactly the kind of thing that they would want to hear.

Plus, a recent survey suggested that a Facebook search product could instantly snag 22% market share, right out of the gate.

Over the last year, we've seen search engines like Google and Bing add more social elements to their search results - for instance Google+ results in Google and Facebook/Foursquare integration on the Bing sidebar. But Facebook is in a unique place, with all of that prized social data from nearly one billion users sitting at their fingertips.

Sandberg also talked ecommerce, as Facebook just launched their new Gifts platform.

"We think the potential on facebook for almost anything is big because of our sheer size and scale and because of what users are doing and how engaged they are on the site," Sandberg said.

Josh Wolford
Josh Wolford is a writer for WebProNews. He likes beer, Japanese food, and movies that make him feel weird afterward. Mostly beer. Follow him on Twitter: @joshgwolf Instagram: @joshgwolf Google+: Joshua Wolford StumbleUpon: joshgwolf

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