Will social search change the Web?
Published on October 13th, 2011 by Steve Zaranyik
When many of us think about buying a product or service, whether we’re in the consumer or B2B space, there is no better source for insight and opinion than a “trusted advisor” or colleague. We can ask what their experiences have been with a similar product, how it excels (or falls flat) in the marketplace, etc. Yes, we can go to a company’s website or talk to a sales rep for information (or a competitively slanted response), but at the end of the day, that kind of research might not really help us make decisions. In the past, when I needed to find information, get reviews or decide on the brand or product I wanted to buy, Google was my first choice. Today, though, for me and many others, this isn’t always the case. Social media – and social search – are changing the way we find vendors, get advice and eventually make purchasing decisions.
At Dreamforce a few weeks ago, one of the hot topics discussed during a keynote session that I found very interesting was social search. Adam Brown, head of interactive marketing at Dell, described social search as, “the future of e-business…where experts, influencers and friends now become the best marketers.”
What is social search? Quite simply, it’s finding content created and influenced by people in your social circle; your friends, family, etc. Your search results are shaped by the interests of those in that circle, and because results are rooted in the real-time social media arena, the feedback and results you get can be instantaneous, depending on your own “social influence” (number of followers, and/or the size of your social community, etc.)
Here’s an example. My wife and I planned a trip to an up-and-coming wine region in Ontario for a couple nights of rest and relaxation. The first thing I did was post a status update on Facebook to ask my fellow wine aficionados where the best places were to taste some winning wines. Since there is not a lot of information online, including websites, for the wineries in the area we were visiting, the obvious choice for advice and information —before I even turned to Google—was my close-knit social community. (They were able to help me quite quickly, I might add.)
What is the future of social search and how will this play out? We now see with Google+ that there is a move to integrate traditional and social search within a single platform. Is this what users really want, or do we still want that division of pure web data and our social network? We will have to stay tuned to find out.
Learn more about how social networks influence purchasing decisions, product development and market trends. Visit the Sysomos Business Library for Social Media and access white papers, reports, webinars, and so much more.