Of all the announcements that have come from the major social media properties about new services in recent weeks, the one that really piqued my interest was the announcement from Bing and Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/Bing) about how Facebook “friending” and “likes” would be incorporated in Bing search results.
It has become pretty common to see graphs displayed showing the relative share of Web views between Google and Facebook as a way of demonstrating Facebook’s growth. My reaction to those stats is “so what?” I don’t think the future is going to be about the competitive share between a search engine and a social media property but rather about how the two can work together to provide even more effective experiences for users.
Search and social have become the two primary means of accessing content in general and, more specifically, the key vehicles for targeting news.
The search engines eliminated the destination-centric approach to Web browsing. Go directly to the content you want irrespective of whose site it might be sitting on. For marketers it offers the promise of targeting ads in a more intelligent way than the traditional parameters of age, sex and location. (A promise which in my view is only in its infancy and is largely unfulfilled.)
The social properties, particularly Facebook, removed a lot of the anonymity of the interactive Web. Suddenly we were dealing with real people with real names instead of goofy monikers or email addresses. It also introduced the process of passing information, whether news or marketing driven, with implied endorsement from friends, followers or connections. That’s potentially a far more compelling targeting device than a keyword or an algorithm
So it is no surprise that a key focus of social media sites has been to improve their search while the search engines have been working on bringing social media content into their search results.
I’m not entirely sure how the potential combination of search and social will be tapped in the future and we will no doubt see applications of this that few of us have thought of. But I am pretty certain that what is going to matter is search and social not search or social.
Authored by Ken Dowell, Executive Vice President, PR Newswire