All of the major search engines are now very much social: Bing is happily in bed with Facebook, while Google, after a lot of flirting with Twitter, is risking leading its own social initiative with Google+. We at The Search Agency know the search engines want to buy into the social space; but where does the integration opportunity lie for brands?
What is clear already from the existing venture between Facebook and Bing is that the ‘search’ results within Facebook are now very much spilt between actual Facebook results and Bing results. And users are aware of this. People are ‘checking in’ all over Facebook and as they do this, not only are ads thrown into the mix, but search results are becoming increasingly targeted. It’s not terribly sophisticated, but users are interacting so we, like most, are beginning to conclude that Facebook and Bing are stepping in the right direction.
And now there is Google+ and the huge expectation that it will substantially boost Google’s ability to aggregate social activity and relevant search results. Google does search very well. Heck, Google does video, maps, mail and news all pretty well. To date, Google has not done the social thing terribly well - with the exception of YouTube, of course. And this is where the lines become a little blurred as YouTube is the second largest global search engine. Will Google+ prove Google has learnt a lesson from Buzz, Wave and other forays into social? Only time will tell if users will engage, but maybe Google should be swotting-up on more of what it does well and building this into their ‘social engine’.
Social campaigns will still lean towards Facebook, Twitter and YouTube in the latter half of 2011, but surely Google has learnt a thing or two by now. Can the number one search engine become a real social engine? We will just have to see!