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Are search and social media really adversaries?

2 min read

Social Media

This post was written by Mirna Bard, a social media consultant, speaker, author and instructor of social media at the University of California at Irvine.

SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Social Media — tracks feedback from leading marketers about social-media practices and issues.

Last week’s poll question: Has the popularity of social media affected the amount of time you spend on Google and other search engines?

  • I use search engines more often than social sites — 51.68%
  • I spend more time on social media sites than search engines — 24.16%
  • I use both social media sites and search engines equally — 24.16%

These answers for this week’s poll are a little extreme, in my opinion, and don’t really represent the whole truth. Sure, I am convinced the social networking trend is growing rapidly, but I’m not convinced it makes search irreverent. Just take a look at our poll numbers above — about 52% of our readers who took this week’s poll say they use search engines more than social sites.

I have been paying attention to this issue for a while, and I don’t understand why search is being downplayed. No matter how much traffic social networks are receiving and what some studies are showing, search is still driving most of the traffic to my business — and I’m sure that’s true for many other businesses, especially in sectors such as e-commerce and business-to-business.

Bottom line — search has not stood still since social media took off. It would be a massive mistake to rule out search engines as relics of the past. Search engines are still a very necessary kernel of the social Web, as social tools and search engines increasingly work together in harmony.

Maybe the question shouldn’t be, “Is less time being spent on search engines because of the popularity of social media, and which one do we pick?” but rather, “How do we make the two work together to drive results?”

Search engines and social media should not be considered adversaries. They are both here to stay, despite what some may state, and the key is to make the greatest use of both.

Do you think social media will outperform search engines? What role do you think search engines play on the social Web?