Get Ready for Social Search

Where did you begin the last time you looked for a new primary care physician (or a specialist to cure your unsettling, Internet-diagnosed affliction)?

Turning to friends, family, and acquaintances for their recommendations is a common solution. Whether you’re seeking a good restaurant, hotel, or hospital bed, the people in your social network are a key source of information.

Launch a browser or mobile app today, and you will rapidly encounter dozens of consumers actively sharing brand experiences that range from generally positive (search for replies to @zappos) to overwhelmingly negative (@bpglobalpr). The wide adoption of social platforms, and the exploding interest in social media marketing, has made it important to participate in the conversations, but to what end?

Enter a new, more passive form of connecting social networks and brands.
Search platforms, like Google, have begun to integrate results culled from the searcher’s social networks. Meanwhile, social platforms, like Facebook and Twitter, are turning to search as way of deriving further value from their data.

Facebook, in particular, appears to be challenging Google’s search dominance. When a user searches on Facebook, items “liked” by their friends are displayed as highly relevant results, essentially creating a socially-aware version of Google’s PageRank algorithm.

These new layers describing personal relationships sit on top of the existing data about page content and the digital linkages among sites. They serve as a new lens for focusing search results, revealing new possibilities for determining relevance. Staying relevant in this changing sea of data requires a continual effort.

It remains to be seen if Facebook can become a major player among search engines, and where Google’s next step into the social Web will land. However, we are headed into a new era in search, where findability relies not solely on content, but also on social context.

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This entry was posted in Social Media by David Sturtz. Bookmark the permalink.
David Sturtz

About David Sturtz

David uses his deep background in design, content strategy and product development to bring vision and innovation to Geonetric’s digital marketing and content practices. He has tackled healthcare digital marketing challenges from all sides, from designing user-friendly information architectures to building content management software that runs websites for hundreds of healthcare brands. He holds a master’s degree in library and information science from Drexel University and a bachelor’s degree in design from the University of Northern Iowa.

2 thoughts on “Get Ready for Social Search

  1. Great post!

    Facebook is beginning to push the idea of social search to other established sites using its new “Instant Personalization” http://www.facebook.com/sitetour/connect.php. In essence, Facebook is allowing other sites to use publicly available information about you (things that you’re sharing in your public profile) to tailor the experience on a site. The end result being that items that you’ve “liked” (or, presumably, that your friends have liked) are incorporated into what you see on other sites.

    They are placing this in limited release at the moment, with only Microsoft Docs, Pandora and Yelp utilizing the technology.

    So let’s look at Yelp. If you’ve “liked” (or, again, people in your Facebook social graph have “liked”) a particular restaurant, it could be more likely to show up in Yelp Search results. Overall ratings are important, but not as important as recommendations from people that you know!

    And that’s social search in a nutshell.

  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention Get Ready for Social Search – GeoVoices -- Topsy.com

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