Social Media and the Future of Search

January 3rd, 2011

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60 Minutes discusses the future of search with facebook’s founder.

Alongside the growth of mobile, we’re seeing viral growth of social media. Let’s take facebook as an example. 500 million people are now on facebook (if facebook were a country that would put it right behind China & India in population). Last month, for the first time ever, a majority of people spent more time on facebook than Google, and just last week facebook trumped Yahoo! for the world’s third largest website.

The Future of Search

Those last two statistics regarding Google and Yahoo! are indicative of where search is headed. The reason for the trend is that age-old adage “it’s all who you know.” People have always trusted their friends, family and acquaintances and valued their opinion. Now that they can interact with them so easily on the web, via facebook, there’s a growing trend toward trading in the results returned by a search engine (such as Google), for the opinions of facebook friends.

What’s This Mean for You?

Basically it means that if you haven’t established a presence on facebook (and secondarily twitter), it’s probably time you did. If you have a presence but aren’t utilizing it, it’s a good idea to strategize how you want to use your account(s) and encourage user interaction. You’ll also want to integrate social media links on your website and e-newsletters if you haven’t already. Lastly, you may want to consider running some targeted facebook ads, since more users are beginning to make decisions on facebook about the products and services they use.

Caution & Consideration

When using social media sites like facebook it’s important to be aware of the fine line we all walk as entrepreneurs and business owners; being authentic while also being professional. Clive Thompson, tech writer for the New York Times Magazine and Wired, predicts that the “share-everything” approach to social media is going to end in 2011 and we hope he’s right. On a professional profile informing friends and fans of exciting new professional developments and sharing useful and fun info is great, but sharing personal information and overly political or religious content isn’t necessary. It’s also important to be sensitive to inundating others with successive or repetitive posts.

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