More and more, I find myself getting into conversations about the search marketing and social media landscape. What does the future look like? Where is this industry headed?
Well, right now, no one knows for sure. And more or less, everyone I come into contact seems to have a nugget of information, or something they heard that empowers them.
Here is the crazy thing, whatever they say is likely right. Why, just the other day, I was meeting with a client, and she asked me “which carries greater weight, a Facebook Like, or a Link from another site”? That’s a phenomenal question that the biggest industry experts are dealing with (Danny Sullivan Discusses this at Search Engine Land).
But what are people really asking? Are they asking such a technical question? Or is the question more about the intrinsic difference between the two? Which is understandable because the lines are getting fuzzy and we use them both all time, so really they are the same, right?
We will likely see much more confusion as the search engines start to become more social, as google is demonstrating with their new Google +1.
And please don’t misunderstand, I am not saying that search marketing will disappear and social media is taking it over. I am not saying that at all. What I am saying is that at some point soon, (I predict within the next 3-5 years) you will look at Google and ‘not really’ be able to tell the difference between it and Facebook. The lines are becoming increasingly crossed and ultimately something big is going to change in the industry.
That being said, Search Engines aren’t going anywhere. They are the foundation behind this extensive information sharing. The Social Networks would be nothing without them. But they have to adapt. Be it a Facebook / Bing Aliance, (Which I previously dubbed FaceBing), or Google coming up with something remarkable on their own (maybe with twitter), there will have to be an evolution.
I suspect that industry folks that are focused only on social media, will likely be able to ride that wave for a while but as things start to overlap more and more, you will have to adapt and understand more how search engines work in order to gain those insights. And the Search Marketing world would be foolish to ignore Social Media, simply because of the direct effect it has on the engines. Not only are the engines using social media as signals, but in terms of driving traffic which ultimately benefits a site, social media does and will continue to play an important role in keeping information current.
We will have to wait and see what happens, but I expect to see a cosmic shift in Search Engines as they become more social.