Over a short period of time, sites like Facebook and Twitter have grown from messaging tools between friends into widely adopted means of self-promotion, advertising, and interaction. Most recently, the growing popularity of sharing useful information through these networks has caused a shift in the way the internet is being used, blurring the lines between its informational and social atmosphere.
As of last week that gray area got a little grayer. Microsoft announced that they struck deals with the two social networking giants to start integrating real time search results that will come directly from Twitter and Facebook users but will be listed within the Bing search engine results. Google also announced that they cut a similar deal with Twitter and would soon be launching a whole new search tool called ‘Social Search’. So it appears that now the influence of your tweets and updates will expand beyond just their narrow social circles.
This all came about as increasing amounts of traffic to websites were coming from Facebook and Twitter, taking some potential business away from search engines. The search engines, rather than compete, realized that when people are seeking information they are finding that content is often more relevant when it comes from someone within their sphere of influence online and not a mysterious and complex algorithm. Also, social search is predominantly based on recency because more times than not the most recent information is also the most pertinent.
What does this mean for publishers? There are larger marketing opportunities in growing your online social circle and actively participating within it. This is also important because for the first time these new forms of search are giving you some control over being found. Instead of solely being bound by the strict rules of search engine optimization and highly competitive keywords, now by making regular use of Twitter and Facebook you are vicariously using search engines to reach an even larger audience. The more social you become with your marketing, the more traffic directed through your links.