Lee Odden

6 Facebook Search Engine & Data Visualization Tools

Lee Odden     Online Marketing, Social Media

Facebook SearchFacebook Marketing is a topic we’ve covered for several years and with the significant increase in Facebook users there’s even more interest in how to make sense of what people do there. I’ve seen a significant increase in referring traffic from Facebook to web pages over the past 6 months and while a lot of that lift comes from marketing activities, I don’t anticipate the trend in Facebook users leaving to visit websites slowing down any time soon.

Participation on Facebook has traditionally been behind the login or confined to your network. With increasing amounts of content available “to the entire internet”, it’s worth exploring. Here are a few tools that you can use to search and visualize what’s happening on Facebook.

Facebook status update search engine
Booshaka – Facebook search. While there are a number of tools to search public Facebook updates, most notably openbook, I like the design of the search results on Booshaka the most. In the way that you might use search.twitter.com, you can use this search to uncover what people are saying about your brand on Facebook among other things. The difference of course, is that on Twitter you know what you post goes out to the world. On Facebook, I don’t think a lot of people have a handle on where their updates are visible. As a result, any outreach efforts must be carefully considered.

If you want to get creative with search and Facebook data, then check out the Facebook API Browser created by Google’s Ka-Ping Yee.

Facebook Like Search Engine
Like Button – This is a handy tool that shows you what people “Like” in Facebook terms. You can select pre-defined categories or you can add your own sites to track. When you identify a specific site, you can then drill down and see a longer list of all the popular items from that site that have been “Liked” or shared by your own Facebook network. If you want to see a “Like” vs. “Link” based search engine, this is a basic view.

Facebook Network Visualization
Touchgraph Facebook Browser – This is the OG of Facebook network visualization tools, at least in my experience, and does a pretty good job of showing smaller networks. You can filter by network like cities or Universities and make other aesthetic adjustments. Your network can be displayed as images on the left or in tabular format. Apparently I am blue network deficient.

Facebook Network Visualization
Social Graph – This Facebook application is is for visualization, not analysis. As with others, if you have a lot of connections, it will use a lot of processing power to render. You can modify the scale up and down and see profile pages of anyone you click on.

Facebook Friend Wheel Visualization
Friend Wheel
– This is all eyecandy. The circle shows part of a social network and around the edge of the circle are 400 or so of my Facebook friends. If two of them are connected by a line, it means that they are friends with each other. If you have over a few hundred friends on Facebook, this is basically useless for insight but damn, it looks good on a Powerpoint slide. 🙂

Facebook search
Facebook Search
– I think the internal search engine for Facebook has a ways to go, but it is getting more useful. The more information collected from external websites of Likes & shares on top of internal page use data, the more useful it should become. One question though, why does the Facebook search page need THREE search boxes? Why not have one search box and let the user pick what kind of search? I guess they have a ways to go on the search front, but you can be certain they’re working on it.

Some of these tools are certainly more interesting than others and if you know of any particularly useful Facebook data mining and search tools, please mention in the comments. As for the tools above, there’s entertainment and curiosity value in some of the visualization tools and the search tools can yield some very interesting information.

Here’s an interesting poll question for you: Do you think Facebook search tools that leverage public data are an invasion of privacy for those Facebook users that don’t know how or haven’t bothered to update their settings?

Additional tool to consider (9/25/12) http://www.social-searcher.com/

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. Thanks for this Lee. Some of the tools look particularly interesting (Booshaka in particular looks like it could be quite useful). If you can find hot topics on Facebok, it can make content creation a bit easier, as you can tailor your offerings to topics that people are currently interested in. Nice article.

    http://twitter.com/StartupSidekick (Follow me on Twitter for more entrepreneurial advice)

  2. Avatar Vince and Roxana Gionti says

    Facebook is awesome…I agree that Booshaka looks quite interesting…With the majority of the traffic on our blog coming from FB it would be interesting to see what people are saying about us on Booshaka..Thanks for sharing!

    • Thank you – if you find other useful Facebook search tools, please come back and share.

      • The new Facebook won’t let you invite all your friends with one click, but I have found a little snipped of Java code that will let you do this. This could be very useful if you have hundreds of friends and don’t want to click on everyone, one by one, to invite them to a new group of yours.Select and copy this code: javascript:elms=document.getElementById(‘friends’).getElementsByTagName(‘li’);for(var fid in elms){if(typeof elms[fid] === ‘object’){fs.click(elms[fid]);}} nnGo to your event/group/page, click invite people and then paste this snippet in the URL field of your browser. Left-click the mouse in the URL field and hit Enter. Your invitations will not be sent yet, but all your friends will be selected. Click the u201cInviteu201d or u201cSendu201d button on the Facebook page to finally send the invites.

  3. I don't think it's an invasion of privacy for those who do not know or bothered to update their settings. In the first place, you shouldn't join or get into something without reading the terms and conditions or at least know what's at stake…just an opinion. The article is great by the way.

  4. Facebook gives companies an opportunity to find out what customers really think about their products and services. It is taking the world by storm, and if you haven’t jumped on this bandwagon, you can bet you’re going to be left far behind.

    Thanks for sharing this useful Information! 🙂

  5. Avatar Michael Terry says

    I think it's 50/50. Obviously the person posting on Facebook wouldn't appreciate “personal” posts or business available to everyone but then again why post it on a social networking web site.

    Personally, I don't feel to argue or complain about information about me being available. However, I do not post personal information such as birthday, when I'm out of town and so forth so my stance might be a little skewed. If you find it interesting that I'm taking my dog to the vet to get a nail trim, more power to ya.

    I think it will all eventually blow up into World War III and it will be a battle with the government and Facebook and any other social networking website.

    • I agree that people do have the responsibility for managing their information online. I also think platforms have a responsibility to make it easy and obvious to do so. If people treated their personal information like money, they might not leave it laying out in the open.

  6. It's a two way street, user-FaceBook platform. We all have a responsibility to be prudent, only the internet comes into our lives, into our offices/homes which at times 'we' forget to put our filters in place.

    If we are to interact and be a part of this, we should be cognizant of the rules, and that means updated rules too. What we do know is that someone, somewhere will push the envelope, it is human.

  7. in my books, facebook and its ever expanding set of “functions” are perhaps the most ingenious social networking, multi-purpose advertising/marketing and recreational tools in the last decade. facebook is such a versatile network that developers have ease when conceptualizing add-ons to code for it. plus the interface is so easy and fun to use, that you're likely to stay there the whole day if you had nothing else to do. and now there are so many tools in it that make it such an integral part of many people's lives.

  8. Booshaka is a good tool to search a particular industry. I enjoy finding new product and reading tips posted by others. Thanks!

  9. Avatar we are cloud says

    Following the social network’s 500 million user milestone which they hit a few weeks ago, we created a dashboard showing various relationships between countries present on Facebook, the number of users and the percentage of the population that hold an account. if you are interested, you might want to take a look at it here. http://bimehq.com/featured/visualization-celebr

  10. I've been exploring marketing thru Facebook and it's not as good as many people think, but on the other hand, all marketing is good marketing. I've created groups, pages and company pages without very much response. After many, many hours of work I only see 10 visits in average per day to the site I've worked with. Is that good for Facebook or am I missing some important things in Facebook marketing?

    • Robbe, have you researched whether your target market is using Facebook? Do you know what they want? Are you connecting with them and offering something of value? Those are the pre-requisites. Check out these posts on how to make Facebook Fan pages work better for you: 10 Ways to Create a More Engaging Facebook Page and Facebook Marketing Tips: Make the Most of Your Fan Page

    • Go to applications and search for Marketplace and join this application. You can now post for free. Give away free reports, and advertise your business opportunities or whatever you like. These advertisements can be targeted to geo location and stay for a long time so it can generate incoming traffic for quite a while if you keep on posting ads every few days. Focus on giving away branded eBooks, because this will generate viral traffic.

  11. Thanks for sharing these tools , but i like the most Booshaka , really i want to go with Booshaka.

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  13. facebook is the best social media that gives me great traffic but not of useful one but still facebook better than twitter for me

  14. These are great tools. Would be great if they could be applied to pages that you administer in addition to just your personal account (at first glance, doesn't look like this is possible?)

    • Hey Kary, they apply to whatever content you make public on Facebook that can be exported via feed or crawled by a search engine spider.

      • Could I also use the touchgraph for facebook pages? For admins would be interesting to see in which networks the fans are in. Doesnt it?

  15. These are great tools. Would be great if they could be applied to pages that you administer in addition to just your personal account (at first glance, doesn't look like this is possible?)

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  17. Great article Leeodden, nnfacebook provides a big platform for connecting to a wide base. Also, with facebook’s user base increasing, these tools have become more significant.

  18. Avatar Mney Abderrassoul says

    You have to build a page that is really good. You canu2019t just build your standard social networking page because it is just going to look like everyone elseu2019s. You need to build something that is going to stand out.nWho build impressive pages, experience friendships that they would not be able to achieve anywhere. The people on their friend lists become more than just prospects. They do become friends, which is great. This is important in order to have an emotional relationship.it is also a great way to have fun while marketing. Marketing is not usually a lot of fun, but this can make it fun.

  19. have you seen http://www.foupas.com ???
    it’s a simple search engine of Facebook posts, pages and groups with the help of Google

  20. http://www.exploreandscore.com – categorizes and graphs your facebook network making exploring and discovering your network fun. Uses Google Visualization to get the job done

  21. does anyone know what happened to Social graph? it silently disappeared completely from facebook – makes me a sad panda…