The Google kool-aid
We’ve been working on a series about Google’s new Social Search function and we’ve experimented with it and tried it on for size, and have noted in our research that there is an appalling lack of critical thinking by bloggers and even journalists who are doing nothing more than cheerleading for Google’s “innovation” or regurgitating information, press release style.
The way Google’s Social Search works is by putting social network search results on page one of a google user’s (someone who has set up their Google profile and indicated their social networks) search. I’d dive deeper into it, but just check out how Google explains their experiment:
Seriously, you are wasting your time…
There are two schools of thought- one that says social networking is a time waster and another that says social networking is the holy grail of doing business in this era. Google Social Search (and us for that matter) are of the school of thought that IMPROPER use of social media is a time waster, but PROPER use is key. With this new search function, we’re hoping that NOW everyone will listen to us as we beg Realtors to stop Twitterorgying with each other and actually talk about their market with actual locals in their market since now, they won’t show up for “Nebraska real estate” if all they’ve talked about is “getting wasted at that conference, dude!”
The era of friend collecting and system gaming are coming to an end as now suddenly, people who advocated for following @boobs6969 on Twitter since she’s known to automatically follow back (that hussy) because their social search results will be filled with @boobs6969’s responses that are nothing more than spam links instead of legitimate responses from their friends. You only wanted to know what your friends thought of buying an Ed Hardy shirt, not what @boobs6969 tweeted yesterday about Ed Hardy weight loss supplements.
The Holy Grail of Google
Google has long rewarded quality SEO by giving it exposure on page one, but Google has just validated the use of social media by giving social network connections space on page one. SEO still matters, because everyone still wants that holy “first result on Google” spot that costs an arm and a leg, but if consumer behavior continues to shift toward relying on personal connections, that first place ribbon may go to someone other than the big box brokers as people begin leaning on Googling their social network for answers.
Google has known for a long time that the web culture (which is now mainstream America) prefers knowing what their friends think over what a Google result thinks, we call it crowdsourcing, yet people have long relied on Google for answers but have shifted their consumer-centric questions to places like Twitter. Now, people can essentially Google their social networks. This changes everything because people don’t have to leave Google anymore to get the answers they need.
Some fears Realtors will have:
What can be scary about all of this is the prospect of buyers and sellers connecting organically as FakeBrandon tweets “I’m thinking of selling my house next year, I’m in South Austin, do y’all think I should wait?” and FakeJennifer who is friends with FakeBrandon searches Google three weeks later, sees FakeBrandon’s tweet in her Google Social Search, remembers how kick ass her friend FakeBrandon’s house is, (especially at last year’s Christmas party) and direct messages him before any Realtors even get involved and voila, a sale is done, despite your knowing and buying FakeJennifer (who is a lush) two years’ worth of drinks at happy hours.
You should also think about your competitors showing up in the search results and you might actually be losing sleep wondering if your competitor has made more meaningful connections with people in their social network, leading to their being top of mind and being the preferred result in a social search setting. Are you spending your time wisely on social networks or are you screwing around stroking your own ego and calling yourself a superstar while your competitor quietly focuses on the local market and does most of their social networking over direct message? Gaming the system won’t work now, because Google Social Search lends to an organic result stream.
Guess what, people- Google has popped the “social media is fun” bubble and has made this become the real world. Board rooms across America who have ignored Facebook will now hear that Google cares, they’ll get on board and it will be a much much noisier place to market. Best practices in social media will be solidified by the end of 2010 and you’ll have to focus on building genuine connections OVER being Homecoming queen. Are you ready?