By Barry | July 28, 2010
Not a day goes by when I don’t find an article or blog post in my RSS reader telling me that ‘social is the new search’, that I need to ‘forget about SEO and start going social’, that ‘social media will replace search’.
Eh, no. It’s not, I won’t, and it won’t.
I don’t buy in to this social-search-coagulation. It just doesn’t compute with me. Looking at my own behaviour online, when I use a social media site I’m in an entirely different mindset than when I’m using a search engine. My ‘user intent’, if you will, is very different.
I don’t use social media sites as search engines. I don’t intend to find stuff when I’m on Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn or Hyves. I do intend to catch up with friends, follow the buzz in online marketing land, laugh at the poor-ass jobs former colleagues ended up in, and stay in touch with my family and friends back in the Netherlands.
When I want to find stuff, I use Google. Or, sometimes, Bing. Or even Yandex. Occasionally I might even use WolframAlpha. In short, I use search engines.
This whole social/search amalgamation seems artificial to me. It’s not intuitive. It feels like a constructed hype that’s being sold to businesses everywhere. And I’m not buying it.
In the interest of being ‘fair and balanced’ I have to admit that there is a chance that I’m wrong. Maybe there is something to this social/search hype. There’s a good chance I’m not your average netizen, and that my online behaviour is not the norm (though the visitor numbers of 4chan lead me to suspect I’m quite normal in that regard).
Maybe, just maybe, there is a convergence going on of search & social. Maybe I’m just blind to it. But (and such is the nature of conviction) I doubt it. Long after this hype has passed, search will be search and social will be social.
Yes, in all likelihood search engines will have some social aspect to them – probably fuelled by one or more social networks. And social networks will have an extensive search function – powered by proper search engines.
But that only serves to prove my point, doesn’t it?