April 26, 2011

What is Social Search?

What it isn’t

People searching for friends  in social networks.

What it is

The ability for search engines on various sites to integrate your own social graph (your social graph, in non jargon terms, is the people you are connected to via social media.) Click on the video below to understand the Google +1 button.

The problem with Google +1

Google presumes that you know what you are looking for and is built around actions

Facebook, however, assumes that you aren’t really looking for anything specific, but that you turn to your friends to see what you should be looking for.

So Facebook is driven by relationships and Google is driven by actions.

The Best Real World Analogy – social difference between Facebook, Twitter and Google

  • Facebook is like the neighbourhood bar where we hang out with our friends and acquaintances, see familiar faces, and awkwardly interact with strangers
  • Twitter is the town square where we engage with people of common interests and shared experiences, some of whom we know and most of whom we don’t
  • Google is like the town’s main train Station –  We’re all there for the same purpose, (but here’s the key,) we’re just passing through on our way to different destinations. The social interactions in a train station are minimal, at best; even if you see a friend, you’re probably only going to say a quick hello, since you’re specifically heading for your train.

Google’s Post It note!

So Google +1 is like leaving a post It note on the bench at the main train station – it has no reference, there is no consequence for me to leave the note and it may or may not be seen by my friends.

Main Reasons why Google +1 might not succeed (in my opinion)

  • The +1 button may have come several years too late
  • Will people ‘+1′ their searches in large numbers? Will they bother leaving a virtual Post It at the station!
  • It is not just your friends who will influence your social search rankings – how credible are my contacts in my social sphere?
  • People need to create and maintain their Google profiles in large numbers for this to work
  • Search is inherently very simple but refining your Google +1 results will add more steps and time to the consumer, even if the quality of search results will be higher, since they have will have been recommended by your peers
  • Will spam be an issue?
  • Will privacy be an issue? Certainly a potential grey area
  • I don’t think ‘+1s’ will appear in Google Analytics  – less measurable possibly?

However, it is speculated that +1 will improve your natural search ranking which is obviously a good thing.

Clearly the gloves are off between Facebook and Google, so let’s see which one gets knocked out, but my money’s on Google +1 !

Posted by Rob Booth | Filed under: All, General, Media, Useful | 2 comments - read them or leave a reply

2 Responses to “What is Social Search?”

  • Cath D'Arcy says:

    Thanks Rob. That just made things a whole lot clearer for me! Not entirely sure how I can use it in any useful way to strengthen (or even protect) by google position, but fingers crossed.

    Hedging my best and just launched a store within Facebook. Will let you know which works.

    • Rob Booth says:

      Thx for the comment Cath – Would love details of what you’re doing on Facebook so I can check it out.

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