Search and Social – Where’s It Headed?

By David Levy, Director of Marketing & Business Development

As our very own Stacie Susens recently wrote, search and social are continuing to merge.

Bing’s new partnership with Facebook certainly is another step in that direction. And, as she points out, the current search results probably each have utility in their own way, depending on who you are and what you’re searching for.

However, I wanted to take a minute to think about where all of this is headed.

As the Mashable article I referenced above indicates, it won’t be long before Bing starts to place your friends’ “Like” data alongside all of its search results.

In my opinion, Facebook represents the biggest threat to Google’s search domination. This is for two reasons:
  1. Search results are becoming increasingly personalized, and who better to personalize them than the company that knows everything about you and your friends (right now, Google mostly knows about only you).
  2. As research suggests, 90% of people seek recommendations from other people who they know and trust before purchasing (The Nielsen Company).
Now, I still think that as people are purely researching online, social recommendations aren’t as important. For example, if you’re researching a book report topic or the definition of a word, or why climate change is happening (sorry Republicans, it is)… then Google’s probably still your best bet.

But, when it comes to transactional searches like “Toyota Camry price Chicago” or “buy diamond necklace,” you might want to see what your friends recommend rather than typing these queries into your Google search box.

In my opinion, partnerships like Bing-Facebook will continue to forge the search-social convergence. But, I also believe that Facebook will begin to become a stand-alone search engine in and of itself.

Why? It’s simple, eliminate the middle man and go right to the source.

When people want to buy, again, they want recommendations.

So, they might begin by posting the question to their friends on Facebook instead of asking their Google search box… such as “looking to buy a Toyota Camry, anyone know of a good dealership in Chicago to buy from?”

Or, “I need new running shoes for the Chicago marathon, any recommendations?”

No need for Google here. Well, maybe for driving directions, but the (in)accuracy of Google Maps is for another blog post...

This, to me, is one of the real powers of the social network… the simplicity of being able to eliminate the clutter of the typical results page and just use your friends’ recommendations to narrow down your consideration set. You’re going to seek those recommendations out anyways, Facebook just makes it easier.

On that note, does anyone know of a good place to buy a diamond necklace in Chicago? My girlfriend is beginning to wonder why I haven’t bought her that yet…


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