The question I ask myself everyday is "Why can't I just ask my computer questions and get immediate answers from other people?". When I have a question, like "what kind of tree is that standing outside of my office window?", why can't I just take a picture & upload it to Facebook, and expect to get an answer in under a minute?
Well, for one, my friends don't study botany, and for two no one is really expecting me to go on Facebook and just start asking random hard questions like "what is the best speech language pathologist assistant program in Los Angeles?" If I did, I'd be lucky to get a meaningful response by the end of the day.
The Painful Realization:
The painful realization is this: right now, there is someone online right now that could give me the perfect answer to my question within minutes or seconds, "Oh that's a magnolia", or "Pasadena City College has the best SLPA program as far as class availability, quality professors, and cost of attendance. I should know; I went to a couple programs in LA for that", etc.
And, not only do I think that there are people out there with great answers for me. They would probably be happy to answer me.
Why? People like being helpful. I've seen it happen. Try asking your co-worker right now a question about their favorite hobby, and watch them light up: "Hey Ronald, I was thinking of buying a train set for my kids. You used to collect trains sets, right..."...Ding! The pearly whites in all their glory.
How to Wet Your Appetite for Social Search:
If you don't really know what I'm talking about, and you want a taste of the benefit of social search (i.e., asking your fellow human for answers instead of search engines), I recommend trying jig.com or Quora. Go ahead, just sign up & ask a question or two...See what happens.
(I should also mention....When Vark.com was in operation, before Google bought them and shut their awesome service down, I got a real good peek at a high performance social-search engine.)
There's not other way to say it: Facebook! You need in incorporate social search. (And not just for people to ask their friends quesitons, but to be able to ask anyone who is on Facebook! And, I mean anyone with an account; AKA, 1/7th of the world...) With your user base about to hit 1 billion in August 2012, you could enable users to know the answers to all their queries.
You already have so much user information; you probably already know what people's hobbies are & what they would enjoy answering questions about.
Why not just add a little feature to the side of your home page that sends people notifications that they have questions to answer and make it a place for people to ask questions?
Hopefully, Facebook will consider this. In the mean time, I feel really dumb not knowing what that darn tree is outside my window!
What do you think? Let me know in the comments.