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The landscape for the future of the Internet and its application for business can be concisely summed up in three statements:
- Search and social are becoming more deeply integrated.
- The consumer is much more in control of the purchase process than the vendor is in control of the sales cycle.
- Reliance on and use of mobile technology has become mainstream.
I’d like to address the first issue – the integration of search and social – in this post and the other two in subsequent entries.
Google Emphasizes Social Signals
We all understand the importance of being found in first page returns on Google. As I’ve said before, it’s the new Yellow Pages, and is where people go to find information on just about everything.
Traditionally, Google has based its returns on link relationships. Now, it’s putting a lot more emphasis on what are known as “social signals” – information gleaned from topics people are talking about in social networks like Facebook and Twitter. That’s one reason Google created its own social network, Google+.
Search marketing expert Danny Sullivan had this to say about the relationship:
“I think Google and Bing have been very cagey and hesitant to use those social signals, although they’re tapping into them more and more. I think then, that anybody who cares about ranking well on Google absolutely needs to be using Google Plus. It’s so integrated with everything that they’re doing, and we can see that it can have some direct relations now as well.”
Takeaway: Businesses need to establish a presence on Google+.
Facebook Debuts Graph Search
Facebook recently released a new product, now in beta, called Graph Search. Basically, it’s a search engine that draws on Facebook’s extensive database of “likes,” which is something it refers to as the “social graph.”
Social media consultant Clara Shih provides this definition: “Graph Search allows users to query their network of friends for their preferences on brands, restaurants, locations, and a variety of other categories.”
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has dubbed Graph Search as the “third pillar” in the Facebook platform (Profiles and News Feed constitute the other two).
You may not yet be privy to Graph Search, as the company is rolling it out slowly over time. However, some suggest it has the potential to challenge Google’s dominance.
An audacious statement perhaps, but not without merit.
Because, according to Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Survey, we trust the advice and influence of our friends much more than other forms of advertising or endorsements. It’s not unreasonable to think that includes Facebook friends, as well.
Using Graph Search, we will ask questions like, “What restaurants do my friends in Baton Rouge like?” or “What doctor would friends in Lafayette recommend?”
While it’s logical to assume Graph Search has greater relevance for B2C companies than B2B, especially those in the oil & gas and manufacturing industries, I wouldn’t suggest offhandedly that searches relative to those are completely beyond the pale.
Regardless, the point is Facebook is leveraging all that it knows about what people like and pointing it the direction of search. Like it or not, that’s game-changing as it puts Facebook squarely in the search business.
It also increases Facebook’s relevance for marketing. “[B]rands and locations won’t even show up in search results or get recommendations without a Facebook Page, making it more important than ever to have a presence on Facebook,” said Shih.
Not only must businesses have a presence on Facebook, Shih indicates they also need to routinely post high-quality content and engage with fans. “Most of the use cases for Graph Search involve searching user interactions, so not only is it a requirement for brands and locations to have Facebook pages, but those pages need user interactions to remain relevant,” she stated.
Takeaway: Businesses need a Facebook Page.
Search and social can no longer be viewed as silos. Each is becoming more dependent on the other. Search is to social like yin is to yang. Put another way, it’s a digital marketing “peanut butter and jelly sandwich” and businesses need to pay attention to the growing relevance.
I can understand if this seems a bit overwhelming, which is the reason Bizzuka provides Internet marketing services. We want to help our clients sort it all out.