Why social media is so important in the evolution of search results

Two years ago, the formula was very simple. Facebook was social media, Google was search results. When you wanted to interact with friends or make new connections, you used Facebook, when you wanted to find out where the best pizza restaurant was in your area, you used Google. While that’s still true now, the lines are becoming increasingly blurred.

Facebook this year introduced “graph search”, an overhaul to their generally poor search function before hand. The focus here was on questions, and using data from your friends and your geographical location. Search for “pizza in Chicago” and Facebook will present you with a search engine like results page, with a seemingly never ending list of local businesses, along with information like how many of your friends have visited that location, how many people have checked in, it even presents a star rating of each location based on reviews it has received.

Google débuted Google Plus in 2011, a Facebook clone of sorts that has gone onto to become the “social layer” for all of their other services. While it promotes a massive user base, this is largely thanks to the integration of the Google + login with its existing popular services, like Gmail and Youtube. Google Plus is aiming to deliver personalised search results based on what your friends are saying and interacting with on the Google Plus social network.

Ultimately, what both sites are trying to do is deliver more targeted content on the assumption that what your friends like and endorse is likely to be more relevant to you. For example, when talking about adverts, Facebook say: “Everyone wants to know what their friends like. That’s why we pair adverts and friends.”

Why is this important for your business? Well, to send social signals, you need social accounts. You need people who are liking and interacting with your page, leaving ratings and reviews, checking in. With that, both Facebook and Google will have a more rounded picture and can present more rounded results. If you don’t have active a strong social presence, or one at all, then you are likely to fall behind your competitors that do.