What on earth am I talking about? What is the relevance between a Social Media Giant and a Search Giant? Are not they just both noisy behemoths operating in a different digital universe? No; they are not, they are much closer competitors than most of us care to acknowledge. Certainly Google wont acknowledge any similarities in the two platforms, that's for sure. Although most people on the inside of the digital space have held the view I am about to share with you all for some time now, it will be news to most.
Let me start by just highlighting one thing; as I know most of you will tune out very quickly and put this rant into the realms of total gibberish! But let me point out that only a short while ago Google shut down its 21st failed project! Why is this relevant? Well just to highlight the fact that they (Google) do not get it right all the time, they, like all business, and individuals for that matter (Richard Branson, as a great example) are not infallible, so please do not take the view that everything is and always will be Google search. At least until you hear me out.
It is no secret that Google dominates search; but what type of search? (Did you know there was other ways to search online?) Well Google is index search. Currently index search only accounts for half, yes half, of all online search, of course it was originally all online search (remember Alta Vista, also closed down recently), Oh and Yahoo. remember that giant of search ?. The simple fact is that Google is already fading out; losing Search share at a remarkable rate. Yes, Google still dominate Index search, as strong as ever, but overall users are looking to other platforms for their search.
Why? Simple again; Google is keyword based, the sites that dominate page one of Google (especially for large Niches) are SEO to the max, cost serious dollars and generally are losing the deliver-ability that they once had, meaning quality content for the user is being depleted by a computer, not human interaction or engagement.
Facebook on the other hand, use something much more valuable than keywords, they use user interaction and engagement. This is created by online profiling of you, the Facebook member.
With the introduction of the Facebook Graph Search, it merely highlighted this theory a short while ago. This theory is also being backed up with the introduction of Facebook Hashtags, no they were not following twitter. In short, Facebook are now constantly (although they always have been) building an online profile of over 1 billion people worldwide (its members). Facebook, unlike Google, has members (yes I know, Google does too, Gmail, Google+, etc. and you sign in, but its nothing like Facebook) it is the member base that is the true power behind Facebook; The ability to "profile" each and every user.
Had you ever wondered why you are always asked to like stuff? Hello! it is to assist this profiling. I do not want to sound like George Orwell here, but that's whats going on. Bear in mind, the average Facebook profile has music listened too, movies watched, favorite TV shows, Sports, Hobbies, Pages liked and the list goes on and on. Facebook know you!
"So what", you may say? Well, let's think of this from a business perspective or a potential advertiser; for the first time in history (I find my self saying that a lot in relation to Facebook) a business can market / advertise directly to people / members from the exact target demographics, the advertiser can now know for sure, 100%, that the person seeing the ad on their Facebook page Will have an interest or at the very least an affiliation with the service or product being promoted. This is powerful, extremely Powerful! If you do not see that, I'm surprised you have read this far. So yes, all you skeptics, I know Facebook ads do not work. Well smart folk, neither did the wheel until they made it round. Well let me enlighten you, Facebook have just made it "round" (by Graph search). And the corporates are flocking in and will continue, after all how long did it take before they took on YouTube as a legitimate advertising avenue.
Come back to us; the consumer; the relevant one in the process of capitalism. We can go to the new Facebook Graph search and search for products that will be of interest to us, these results are preferentially ordered by our friends etc. As its assumed (and generally rightly so) that if our friends have an interest in a certain business, location, service or product, then so will we. Fair enough.
Lets get back to Google, our Google search still results boring old results based on our; the consumers; search string, after being churned in the Google "maxi" computer, it spits out these results based on keywords, that may or may not be so relevant to us. It's these keywords that the wise people at Google think are relevant for our interest or search. Not what we think is relevant through our own interests (Facebook) or our friends interests (Facebook).
So I'm sure you can now see, that going forward, although it's already happened and most of you just do not believe it, that the opportunity for a Facebook search will yield far more relevant search results and create a greater user experience, both socially and commercially.
I can now hear some of you say, "But I do not want those damned ads on my Facebook timeline!" Personally I find this attitude a little odd. After all, are not Facebook entitles to make a few bucks as they provide us this amazing online behemoth for free? Surely you can give the ads a bit of a look, if nothing but to keep Facebook Free for all of our benefit. I also find this odd because I can not think of any form of media in the capitalist world (apart from non-for profits etc.) that does not have advertising all over it; Television, Newspapers, Magazines, Radio, Billboards, and just about anything else you can think of. So why not on Facebook? After all Mark Zuckerberg made it very clear that Facebook will always be free.
On and on I go about Facebook, I know that's what your thinking. But more and more online platforms are being built with Facebook in mind, and why would not you. As I said at the start, Facebook is taking over windows as the new platform. Its just the interaction at this stage is different, html5 is also a major reason for such change in all these spaces (I wont bother getting into that). I ask you this, how often do you go to a site and get a little button saying "login with Facebook"? And you use it, I mean why not, it automatically gleans our info and populates an annoying form. I'm in!
By the way, the guys at Microsoft already know this (the demise of windows), hence windows 8, a platform that many of you complain about, but it covers all bases; Windows, apps and tablets. Clever! Playing a defensive strategy, but a good one that will absolutely pay off.
So for the future? Well, this I have absolutely no idea, beyond the short to medium, to be honest, its well beyond my thinking. It's a shame Steve Hawkins is not a Digital Media guy, because that is about the level of intellect required to have any grass for the future of the digital space, well actually no. No one has a grasp for the future of the digital space, as it is purely ideas and thought swooshing around in the big mix-master of the world wide web at the moment. But one thing is for sure, it wont be Facebook or Google, in my view it will be the current Facebook platform that we will all be using, and Google will bob along with Bing and Yahoo, and our Social Interaction will dominate; true engagement and interaction will be like we have never known it and something will again rise to the top of this seemingly vast expanse of the internet.
OK, I have raveled on enough for now. So I will leave you with one thought, and my favorite saying, Capre Diem, and learn, learn as much as you can because if you are reading this chances are you in or around my age group and if so, I pity you, you are so far behind to start with its scary! but, it is not to late! and the good news is your already interested or you would not be reading this. Embrace the change, and move and grow with it!
Oh, and do yourself a favor, save a few bucks on SEO, it wont be worth a pinch of salt in a few years (most likely less), just make sure you and your business is on, and all over Facebook. Sorry, I'l upset many with that comment I'm sure, but the SEO guys have had it good for a long time, maybe you need to look into Facebook SEO, yes, it does exist, you know "graph search" I 've mentioned it once or twice.
And by the way, if you were going to say "What about Google+, are not they going to challenge Facebook" and this is all therefor trivial? You have a good point, potentially, but the problem for Google is that Google+ is a dog! Sadly for Google.