Social Media is the Yin to Search’s Yang

Social Media is the Yin to Search’s Yang

By Staff Writer
In July 23, 2013
2837 Views

How many searches do you conduct in one day? I easily type at least 30-40 questions a day into a search engine or social media site. Did you know that every day Google answers more than 1 billion questions around the globe in 181 countries and 146 languages? According to Statisticbrain.com, there were 1,873,910,000,000 Google searches in 2012 and roughly 5,134,000,000 searches done per day!

Google Search Chart

When you sit back and think about just how important the search engine has become in your life, it is mind-boggling. Search engines are to people (at least to me) what gas is to a car. It’s how we find directions to that new restaurant we wanted to try, find out who the actor is in the new GEICO commercial or see what latest photo craze has hit the internet. Google reported that 15% of the searches done every day are new, first-time search terms. People are naturally curious and search engines satisfy our craving to discover the past, present and future. Search engines have become part of our DNA make-up. Just ask some of the younger generations how they consume news and what medium or device they use. Most will answer with some sort of element of search playing a major role. (Fun fact, according to Yahoo, the number one question millennials between the ages of 18-35 asked the internet in May 2013 was “What is a Meme?” To read the other top nine questions, click here: Top 10 Questions Millennials Ask The Internet.)

If search ever had a yin to its yang, it would be social media. Yin and yang is a concept of seemingly opposite forces giving rise to one another and working interdependently together in the natural world, such as males and females, water and fire or even hot and cold. According to Merriam-Webster, Social media is “forms of electronic communication (as Web sites for social networking and micro blogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (as videos).” And search engines are “computer software used to search data (as text or a database) for specified information; also: a site on the World Wide Web that uses such software to locate key words in other sites.”

Social media and search are somewhat opposites in terms of their end goal, yet work so well together. People traditionally use social media to connect with friends, share interesting information and document their life for others to see, while search engines have been a discovery tool for new and old information, which in the past has been dictated by who has their optimization down pat. But as we all know, what your friends say always wins. Which is why the evolution of social search is exciting. It is merging the power of social influence with our daily desire to know more.

Search engines have taken note of the power of social influence and the fact that search is a personal activity that users want tailor-made for them. This is why you see so many platforms updating and integrating more social media into their traditional search functions. And on the flip-side, no longer do you have to just go to Google or other traditional search engines for information. Many of the social media platforms have started to transform into robust search engines themselves, though whether or not they are doing it well is still up for debate. This blog is not intended to sway you on which platform is getting social search right, but merely to provide a glimpse into the evolution of the most important digital tools we depend on today. Here is a brief look at how the platforms we rely on are evolving to meet our human desire to get personal with social search:

Google Social Search:

Google is straying from being solely a place to search – they’re evolving into an area you can explore.

– Guillaume Bouchard on Search Engine Watch.

Google wants to eliminate your need to search for anything – Google wants to simply tell you what you think you want to know, based on your past searches, social interactions and more. They are doing this by syncing with your existing Google accounts and using your personal data to track your preferences to better your search experience. This is known as semantic search, the future and game changer in the search industry. Semantic search will rank your content based on a new grading system that analyzes and decides whether your content actually engaged your intended audience based on various social signals. What this means is your CONTENT MATTERS. Don’t just create content to jump on the content marketing bandwagon. Do it to engage your audience and spur social action to boost your search presence.

Have you heard of Google+? Do you use it? Why not, since I know more than half of you answered no in your head? Here is a great article on why you cannot afford to ignore Google+ anymore. Search, plus Your World has been a movement Google has been pushing for over a year and a half and many feel it leaves something to be desired when it comes to social search. Here is a video showing just how it works:

Many factors affect your search results in Google and no two people get the same search results each time. Personalized search is coming if not already here and your social media network — especially Google+ — is already deciding what results you see each time you ask Google a question.

Bing Social Search:

Bing, often thought of as one of the ugly stepchildren in the search engine industry, is finally fighting back. Last year Bing released a new social-friendly search interface to compete with Google’s Search plus Your World. While well received, Bing did not get as much credit for their innovation as they may have deserved. But Bing did not stop there and has recently released some exciting updates that are finally positioning it as a leader in social search.

Bing is experimenting with social search by adding Bing Boards. Bing Boards are a collection of images, videos and links focused on a specific topic pulled together by a designated board creator. They are currently being tested by a small group of food and lifestyle bloggers and are “designed to help users find search results that are created by people passionate about specific topics” instead of being based on fancy algorithms. Real people, real search; the future of social search. Bing is also increasing its ties with Twitter, introducing a new Bing-powered translation tool to make it easier for people around the world to connect with each other. And what’s more, if you have done an image search on Bing recently, you probably noticed the handy “Pin It” button integrated into each photo. A Pinner’s dream! Bing is making a name for itself in the social search arena. Better watch your back, Google.

Yahoo Social Search:

Although they are not making huge strides in social search just yet, Yahoo is positioning itself to go head-to-head with Bing and Google with some key acquisitions and a new CEO, Marisa Mayer. Yahoo recently acquired Tumblr and a mobile start-up called Jybe, which means we can expect some personalization, mobile and social search updates before too long. The ball is in Yahoo’s court. I am personally looking forward to what they can bring to the table.

Facebook Social Search:

When talking about social search, I cannot leave out Facebook’s new Graph Search. Basically, since the moment you started a Facebook profile, it has been collecting millions upon trillions of pieces of data on you. Every time you hit the like button, Facebook stores a new info byte. Now they are taking that data and transforming it into a discovery engine you can use to search for people, places and things. Visit this link to see just how Facebook Graph Search works. This new Facebook feature has and still does have many of the platform’s users worried about privacy issues, and rightfully so. Click here for an article on how you can tweak your Facebook profile to be graph search friendly.

Facebook has been met with much criticism for graph search and is falling short as a robust social search engine. Head engineer Lars Rasmussen was even quoted saying, “We have years and years of work to do.” Although there is work to be done, graph search is here and it will only get better. As we all know, Facebook is here to stay.

Twitter Social Search:

Twitter, the king of real time and what’s happening now, has been slowly improving its discovery engine to become a major player in social search. When a major event happens, many people go to Twitter first before looking at a major news outlet since it is an aggregate of several news outlets in one place. In 2012, there was on average 2.1 billion search queries done on Twitter per day. Twitter recognizes the value of the immediacy people crave and expect. So earlier this year, Twitter introduced a new project to better its users’ real-time social search experience by integrating a human element:

“We’ve built a real-time human computation engine to help us identify search queries as soon as they’re trending, send these queries to real humans to be judged, and then incorporate the human annotations into our back-end models.”

They have also released Twitter cards, which allow publishers to present their content in a much more dynamic way with summary cards containing rich snippets. Twitter provides various types of card summaries: Photo, gallery, app, large image, player and product. They also recently released a Lead Generation Card for a few select brands and advertisers. I am looking forward to seeing what Twitter continues to do in the native platform as well as how they continue to integrate with other platforms such as Bing.

Pinterest Social Search:

Pinterest came on the scene with a bang and has been a force to reckon with ever since. Quoted as being a tool to index the visual web, Pinterest is a true hybrid of a social network and search engine, positioning itself to take on the world of social search. It just recently introduced more useful pins that provide users with more relevant and rich information in each pin. For example, product pins now have pricing, availability and where to buy information. Recipe pins now have cook times, ingredients and serving information. Pinterest recognizes that users want more information. Users are sponges and the more information you give them, the longer they stay and the more they search. I found a recent article on BuzzFeed (yes, BuzzFeed) interesting. What caught my attention was the title: “Pinterest Accidentally Built A Better Search Engine Than Google.” The article really does show just how intuitive some of the social platforms like Pinterest are when it comes to social search and delivering what the humans inputting the searches actually want. Kudos to Pinterest!

In summary, there is a lot happening in the social search arena and it is an exciting time to be in the content marketing, social media or SEO industry. Social media is truly the yin to search’s yang, and social search is an exciting frontier that will keep marketing professionals everywhere on their toes. Everything is changing and at a rapid pace. So batten down the hatches and enjoy the ride. It’s going to be a wild one!

Staff Writer

So who is this mysterious staff writer? Could be anyone really, as long as they meet our very strict criteria. 1) Worked with us in one capacity or another. 2) Have something pretty interesting to say. 3) Want to use our blog to say it. See? Told ya they were strict!