THE BLOG
02/06/2013 05:01 pm ET

7 Ways You Can Use Facebook's Graph Search

When I first got access to Facebook Graph Search, I wrote that I felt "underwhelmed." But I've found that the more time I spend with it, the more I like it.

It's been two weeks now since I started using Graph Search. My first impression of "Where'd my notifications go" has turned to "Thanks Facebook for moving that." It makes search easy to access.

The more I've used Graph Search, I've also seen how quickly it operates. It's fast.

Here are seven ways I've seen you can use Graph Search that make it really awesome:

1. Navigating Facebook: It's not just for search queries. I've found that Graph Search is an equally great way to navigate the site. For instance, I can start typing in "Social Journalism," a private group I started that I often visit, and after a few letters, I can hit enter, and I'm there. I can start typing in a friend's name, and again, after a few letters, I can hit enter, and I'm there. The fact it knows your Social Graph, your interests and what you typically visit on Facebook make the results that much more relevant - and that much quicker - than they used to be with the old Search.

2. Identifying mutual friends: If you just met someone, or want to meet someone, this is great. This was always possible on Facebook but not at the speed or ease of Graph Search. You can search "[Person's Name]'s friends who are my friends," and boom, within seconds, they're all listed. One use of this I've seen is searching for "famous people" or people I really admire who I'm not friends with -- I can see if we have mutual friends who could do an intro. It even says how long they've been friends with that person and other additional context.

3. Finding photos based on your interests: This can be great when you're having a tough day or need a pick-me-up. It usually works for a smile. For example, you can search "Photos of kittens," and boom, anyone who has tagged a photo kittens (that is, linked to the Kittens Facebook page) pops up. It's ordered by engagement, so the most liked/commented on appear at the top, and that decreases the risk of spam or photos you won't like. As a hockey fan from Buffalo, I enjoyed doing this with "Photos of Buffalo Sabres" and other queries. You can also search for photos by location (example: "Photos of my friends taken at Central Park") or time (example: "Photos in September 2010").

4. Seeing what your friends like: I've actually found some good recommendations by searching phrases like "Books my friends like" or "Movies my friends like." You can get creative like, "Books my friends who work at The Huffington Post read," or "Favorite music of my friends who live in Los Angeles, California." You may not think the results are much different, but they can be, and it's fun to dig around. You can even do things like "Favorite interests of my friends who are female," or "Favorite sports teams of my friends who went to [College Name]." Of course, you can search for likes for a specific friend too; for example "Music [Friend's Name] likes."

5. Learning who you're not friends with: It's actually really interesting to see who you're not friends with but maybe should be. For example, I can search "People who work at The Huffington Post and who I am not friends with." It sorts by mutual friends. You can get more specific like "Friends of my friends who like Buffalo Sabres and who I am not friends with." You're certain to see familiar faces when you do searches like that (I did, as a Buffalo Sabres fan), as again it takes into account number of mutual friends. You can get really crazy with inquiries like this: "Friends of my friends who are between 25 and 30 years old and who live in New York, New York and who I am not friends with."

6. Discovering people who live somewhere specific: Say you're about to travel somewhere. It's easy to search for "Friends who live in [City Name]" or "Friends of friends who live in [City Name]." You can make connections this way and get recommendations. I did that just this past weekend when I went to Montreal for the first time, and I got great suggestions on places to see, things I had to do and good places to eat. You can also do more advanced searches like "Friends of friends who live in [City Name] and like [interest]" or "Friends of friends who live in [City Name] and work at [Company Name]." These are very interesting, and again it'll tell you how many mutual friends you have in common.

7. Building up your professional network: You can run searches like, "People who work at [Company Name]," and the people you have the most connections will float to the top. Again you can see mutual friends who might help with an intro. You could also consider messaging people directly. You can search by position title and get really detailed. You can even look for people at other companies who share common interests of yours, "People who work at [Company Name] who like [interest]" and try to start up conversation that way. Lots of potential here.

Want to know more about Graph Search? Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other Facebook employees explain it in the video below.

CONVERSATIONS