What Does Social Search Mean for Businesses?

We’ve all heard a lot about Social Search and the way search engines are moving towards real-time results – but what does it mean for brands and businesses?...

How social media is impacting on search

We’ve all heard a lot about Social Search and the way search engines are moving towards real-time results – but what does it mean for brands and businesses?

A social search report just out from immediate future provides a helpful and user-friendly introduction to social search from the brand perspective. It starts by explaining what social search isn’t – i.e. people searching for friends or content within social networks (e.g. using Bing within Facebook). Instead, it’s about search engines integrating your social graph (jargon for “the people your connected to via social media”), into their search results for relevant terms.

In effect what we’re witnessing is the personalisation of search, as the results we see are filtered to show mentions and recommendations from our friends and connections above natural search results. The usefulness of this is yet to be proven – but it’s here, like it or not.

There are three new factors that social search considers, beyond traditional relevancy.

  1. Timeliness – You might see the latest Tweets of your contacts, which will be gone 5 mins later.
  2. Localisation – You might see posts from connections who are near you, e.g. logged in and connected on Foursquare or Gowalla
  3. Crowdsourcing – You might get answers from your network on topics you’re searching for, e.g. from Quora or Twitter

So what does all this mean for businesses or brands?  Well, the report suggests an approach to social media that incorporates social media monitoring, social PR and good old SEO and recommends 5 things you should do. Here’s a quick summary:

  • Check the keywords that your content is optimised for to ensure they match customer searches
  • Be consistent with keywords to ensure you rank for relevant terms
  • Encourage “Likes” and sharing on social platforms for greater visibility (more people and more search results)
  • Make sure you are being reviewed and that reviews of your services are shareable
  • Monitor for negative mentions and deal with them quickly to avoid negative search legacy

All pretty common sense – but worthwhile remembering. The first thing I train my clients to understand during our social media marketing training sessions is SEO. It’s heart warming to see that it remains an essential skill, even in our social times.

Katy Howell, MD of immediate future will be speaking at Social PR 2011 in London on Monday 28th Feb 2011.

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5 comments

  1. Anonymous Reply

    Hey Luke,

    Great synopsis of social search. I wonder how long it will take the technology to become valuable and not inhibitive. I would imagine that it could cause some real frustration early on when I’m searching for something that the personalized search engine doesn’t think I’m likely to search for. In some ways, however, it sounds similar to the localization of search that’s already happening on mobile devices, which works really well.

    @andrewbschultz

    1. Luke Brynley-Jones Reply

      Yes – it’s hard to tell how useful this is at the moment and it’s a little irritating there’s no mention of “social search” within your personal Google search settings. If it’s there, you really want some way of controlling it. I’ll have another look at mobile search – good point.

  2. SEO reseller Reply

    I couldn’t agree more that SEO still plays a vital role in internet marketing even though many are investing time and money in Social Media Marketing right now. Having said that, maintaining a reputable social media portfolio will surely help to make its way up with Google Social Search.

  3. 40deuce Reply

    Great stuff. I love that people are really starting to see more of the connections between SEO and social media.

    Cheers,
    Sheldon, community manager for Sysomos (http://sysomos.com)

  4. Roger Ewing Reply

    Look, we all know by now that trusted recommendations are the best source of customers and clients for our businesses. Social media is a powerful tool in the hands of a skilled director. I like this piece because it speaks to the essence of the social fabric that the internet represents. Your three factors are exciting in terms of determining the future of search. I shared this piece with my company social media director.

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