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Posted by Melissa Parrish on January 11, 2012
I don’t know about you, but my head is spinning from all of the articles and editorials about Google’s incorporation of Google+ content and other personalized search results. While there’s lots of conversation about whether the changes are good or bad for Google and the future of search, whether Google is opening themselves up to more anti-trust investigation, and whether Google was simply too late to the social media game to make a difference, I’m going to leave those arguments to others. I’m more interested in the potential opportunities and challenges for marketers that this integration of search and social presents.
As I said, these opportunities and challenges are all hypothetical at the moment. We don’t yet know if Google users will be drawn in or repelled by their personalized search experiences. But today, I think it makes sense for marketers who have the resources, to test more carefully-crafted content and see what results they get. This is a brand new development, so it wouldn’t make sense to shift resources away from social programs that are already successful. But if your team has bandwidth for experimentation, I think this is a pretty good use for it. That way, you’ll be ready if it turns out Google’s users love the personalized experience.
And if those users do fall in love with the new features, I think there are two important possibilities for the future of social/search integration. Much has already been said about the fact that Google is incorporating only its own social content, at least partially due to the limitations of data provided by other social networks. If Google is able to convert their dominating search user-base into social searchers, the other social networks may be forced to loosen the reins on their closed systems and allow the search giant to index their data. But Google currently owns only the search space. The other possibility is that the dominating social network (Facebook, obviously) will decide to build its own search engine and bring its social graph right along with it. Either way, I don’t think Google’s changes are bringing the Google vs. Facebook fight any closer to a conclusion. It just makes it more complicated than the simple feature one-up-man-ship we’ve seen so far.
So there’s my take. But what do you think brands should do? Wait and see? Test and learn? Dive right in? Sound off in the comments.