Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Social Media - The Internet's Next Search Engine

Google used to dominate search on the Internet, but 15 percent of traffic to major Web portals like Yahoo, MSN and AOL now come from Facebook and MySpace, (in fact Facebook accounts for 13%).   A major shift is happening as people are spending more time navigating the Internet through their friends and family recommendations on Facebook.  Real-time search in Facebook contains rich media content: video, music etc.  Take for example a search on dinner and your friends' evening plans and restaurant searches may come up, together with reviews on that restaurant and perhaps links to their menu and map.  This is a much more useful search than you could achieve on Google.  Another great example is from Intuit.  Turbo Tax's 20 million users are on Facebook and each has an average of 150 friends.  In this tax season, it makes sense for Turbo Tax to tap into Facebook to create buzz, reviews and answers to tax questions.  

Marketers need to focus on incorporating social media optimization just as much as search engine optimization (SEO).   Advertisers must include Facebook as part of their campaign.  Compete’s online media and search survey in December 2009 showed that Google is now third in directing traffic.  And who is number one?  Facebook!   

Facebook now has 400 million active members, including about 225 million added in just the past 12 months, equating to a very large nation. 

Google’s answer is Google Buzz, which allows Gmail users to post updates, videos, photos and links, Facebook-style.  However, it’s recent launch has not gone down too well and raised lots of privacy concerns, not to mention that you don’t tend to treat your entire email or contacts list as ‘friends’. 

As marketers, we are still seeing this social media phenomenon emerge.  As a consultant in the industry,  I can only recommend and urge businesses to start engaging in the social media platform now, even if we don’t yet fully understand how to predict its impact on a particular business.  You will invariably learn from trial and error and you can start simply and grow your participation.  Having a website is no longer sufficient.

To discuss how social media can impact your me or start the conversation right here.  


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