Just so we’re clear, by “Social Networking” I mostly mean Facebook, with a dash of Twitter thrown in.
By “Search”, I mostly mean Google.
And here’s why Facebook is going to kick Google’s ass (over time, not for the next year or 2)
It’s All About Who You & I Trust
You see, it’s all about trust.
Let’s say I do a search on something “Flip cameras“.
That search has probably got a bit of commercial intent behind it in that it’s a consumer item that the searcher could well be researching prior to purchasing.
Okay then, what does Google give me.
- Lots of ads
- Then the official Flip web site.
- Then another ‘web site’ result.
- Then a couple of reviews and then the obligatory Wikipedia entry.
Now these results are fairly typical and they’re okay. Nothing amazing, just okay.
And these results all lack one very important thing. It’s a thing that’s closely related to the # 1 barrier to buying.
But more on that later.
Now, Let’s Go To My Social Network
Let’s compare that with what happens when I go to my social network.
I post a comment like “Looking to buy a Flip Mino HD. Any comments good/bad/indifferent??”
Very quickly I get messages back from people in my network with comments, reviews and examples.
People I know and trust are giving me great information without, and this is the critical bit, commercial considerations clouding their feedback.
That is, my friends don’t stand to make any money off me buying a Flip camera.
Google Want My Money
But every single one of those top Google results (along with Google itself) do stand to make money off me buying a Flip camera.
That’s why I don’t trust the Google results anywhere near as much as I trust the word of my friends. And trusting who is giving you the information is the key to overcoming the biggest barrier when you buy something – that is, trust reduces significantly the perceived sense of risk in purchasing something.
So you could say, without much doubt, that the information friends give me is going to be less biased and more useful.
In a nutshell, my friends are more trustworthy than Google’s results.
My friends (I hope!) aren’t my friends so they can make money off recommending products to me!
But that is essentially what Google is in business to do.
Who would you trust – your friend Jenny who told you about her experience with Flip cameras over a few beers, or a faceless web site who sell Flip cameras?
Word of Mouth is King
Every marketing study ever done shows “Word of mouth” as the most powerful of all influences upon our buying decision.
- Word of mouth is what gets action.
- Word of mouth is what works.
Social networking is word of mouth.
Search engines are advertising.
And that’s why social networking sites are going to kick search’s butt in years to come.
It’s because I (and you too) trust my mates more than I trust someone who is trying to sell me something.