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Is social media becoming a search engine?

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Social Media

Today’s guest post was written by Christian Georgeou of Search Engine Watch, producers of the Search Engine Strategies San Jose Conference & Expo.

Just seven months ago Frank Watson from Search Engine Watch asked the question: Could Social Media Be the Google Killer? While that’s almost an unthinkable feat given Google’s explosive track record over the past five years, Frank highlighted several key points that have become ever clearer as the social media train begins to pick up speed.

As individuals gain access to more information and are exposed to ever greater ways to share that content, it is apparent users are beginning to form “trust groups” through social media. Endorsements from friends, colleagues and partners offer great appeal. Social bookmarking sites, social messaging utilities, and social networks make this process easier and more interactive than ever before.

The explosion in traffic to social media sites can be directly associated with many of these collaborative features that social media outlets offer. This is also unsurprisingly where the true potential threat lies for Google. In the end, traffic is more alluring to advertisers than ranks, and blossoming traffic and membership numbers may begin to steer their advertising dollars away from traditional search venues.

Still, social media is struggling to find a model by which to monetize and find profitability, much like the dot-coms during the late 90s.

Like it did with YouTube, Google may well find it more advantageous to simply buy out those social media outlets that are most promising, rather than attempting to organically grow its own system. Google has certainly taken note of these trends in search — hence the rumors over a possible bid for Twitter.

Photo credit, Napfisk