Will Facebook’s search take off? Will Google go social? This discussion in trades is currently focusing on search vs. social. In reality the conversation should be less about Google vs. Facebook and more about the traditional online consumer vs. the emerging role of the connected or social consumer. I remember when I first started in internet marketing over a decade ago the term “Traditional Consumer” had a much different meaning. Traditional meant offline compared to online, now the internet empowered consumer is the traditional consumer.
The conversation is now about the traditional online consumer vs. the social consumer, and this comes down to behavior . How they find information, share experiences, and make decisions are different. The social consumer leverages the support systems they have developed around them. Traditional consumers and also connected consumers take to Google to search. When it comes down to making a decision however, social consumers take to their feeds to see who’s talking about the topic and to also seek input from their social graph. As social search evolves within Facebook for example, social consumers may forgo Google to stay within ttheir network. When begining a search, results qualified by peers take a lot of the extra work out of the process. This is a cool graphic I found to visualize this idea:
When we look at Google’s approach to search, well, it’s integrating social media and the social graph into search results. But Google is losing its appeal as a destination amongst the connected consumer. Therefore Google is exploring social and the much rumored Google Me, that connects people and information through social graphs and also the world wide web. Competing for the social consumer will reveal a winner. Stay tuned.