As an example, you could type in “kayak trip John Smith” to find a previous post you saw in the news feed from your friend John Smith where he’s talking about a kayak trip. Facebook said the test is just on a small scale at this stage, and didn't provide any further detail about a wider rollout. Given that Facebook now considers itself a mobile-first company, expanding the range of search options through its app is a logical step. Mobile is where its users are spending the most time, and the Facebook app ranks as the top U.S. app in both reach and engagement, according to a comScore report released last week.
Aside from any eventual tie-in to advertising or ad targeting, especially when it comes to looking up posts from pages people follow, the main benefit from adding the ability to search old posts is simply to make the Facebook app more useful.
It also hints at Facebook’s broader ambitions for Graph Search, its enhanced search engine, which it began rolling out on the desktop earlier this year. In its second-quarter earnings report, the company said it had reached the milestone of 1 billion search queries every day in June.
“And over the next few years as we make progress on building out search and our broader efforts in artificial intelligence, I expect us to deliver even greater utility for people,” said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, during the earnings conference call. Coupled with its focus on mobile, that makes the latest test look like just the start of much bigger plans for Facebook search on smartphones and other devices.
And given Facebook's new push to create stand-alone apps, how long before it adds a separate search app?