Search & Social – you can’t get the cream out of the coffee
Yesterday, Google launched “Search plus your World“, intermixing search and social and providing even more “personalized” results. There’s a lot of outcry about some parts of this, with people saying they don’t want “personalized” results. I actually think that normal users do want personalized results and that this is, for the most part, a good thing.
There’s been some outcry though, because Twitter and Facebook aren’t “highlighted” as much as Google+ in those new social results. Danny is doing some awesome reporting on this, first in “Search Engines Should Be Like Santa From “Miracle On 34th Street”“, later in an interview with Schmidt.
Google used to have access to the Twitter firehose, all the tweets coming in in realtime, enabling them to index tweets at light speed. Facebook used to show some friends of a person on a profile to visitors to that profile who aren’t logged in, now look at the cache for my Facebook profile: just other people with the same name.
As I said in a reaction to a Google+ post by Jeff Jarvis: what both Twitter and Facebook are afraid of is that they’re “giving” “their” social graph to Google, thereby allowing Google to easily grow its own social network because it would make it very easy for Google to suggest friends to you or say “these friends of yours already use Google+, shouldn’t you use it too?”. So by opening up, they’d open their books to a competitor.
This, ultimately, should be a users choice, not a platform choice. When it does become a user choice, of course Google should favor the social network the user is the most active on, so if I’m more active on Facebook than on Twitter or Google+, it should highlight that above the others. Right now, it seems to be mostly highlighting Google+, which will raise some eyebrows here and there and is food for discussion.
A while back at the first Fusion Marketing Experience in Brussels, Bas van den Beld of State of Search interviewed Olivier Blanchard and myself about search and social. We talked about how the two intertwine and can’t be unraveled, in fact, as Olivier said during the interview: “it’s like coffee and cream, once they mix you can’t get the cream out of the coffee”. See the interview here (the sound is not the best ever, I know):
The thing is: this is a done deal. There’s no way back. Search and social have now officially teamed up, so you might as well live with it. It also means that not using Google+ is… Not really an option if you’re a marketer, but I guess we had that one coming for a while as well.
So, what does this mean from a tactics perspective? For now, it means: share every post on Google+ too, make sure you have Google+ buttons on your posts and, most importantly: keep building relations with people! It’s not like that much changed; social mentions might have become a new and maybe even important ranking factor, but even quality links are usually the result of a relation, of social interaction.
The formula to success didn’t change: you have to keep building relations / followers / an audience, create great content and make sure people notice it.