Searching for people and things has come a long way over the last five years. The utility of being able find relevant people and things helps improve personal and professional productivity. But search still has a long way to go.
Ken Mallon and Duncan Southgate write at Advertising Age: Where Digital Marketing Is Heading in 2010 and one of their predictions was Search evolves, but not everyone notices.
“Social media will affect search in two ways. Firstly, search will become increasingly real-time as users take advantage of Google and Bing search results, including Twitter and Facebook updates, or use Twitter search as a standalone application. Secondly, the meshing of search and social will be embodied by the arrival of Google’s Social Search option, where you can see the information posted by people within your online social circle.
Major search providers, including Google, MSN and Yahoo are all focusing heavily on the new .mobi search domain. Travel and hospitality brands in particular will be interested in this new development as it fits well with the behavior of their target customers. Rapidly improving mobile applications such as map-based search and Google Goggles’ picture-based search will encourage more consumers to search on the move.”
Reversing the Intent of Search
Brands and merchants are just discovering that unless they can be found buyers are not likely to “engage” with them. Social media is increasing buyer awareness given the massive propagation of offerings on sites like Twitter and Facebook. However, most of the awareness is really coming from friends of friends rather that from brands and merchants. Search is relevant when people are looking for someone or something. But search by itself only increases awareness while attention, attraction and transactions come from buyer experiences shared with others.
The intent o search is to be found. Once found the subsequent experiences determine whether buyers will give you any time to consider your proposition. Buyers spend time and attention looking for things. Buyers come ready made to transact but the process is what kills most transactions.
A day in the future buyers will not need to search for people or things rather all they will need to do is inform the marketplace of what and whom they are looking for. Responses for things and people will come back to the buyer rather than buyers having to go find them. This reversal to search will change everything. While we think social media is disruptive we haven’t seen anything yet compared to when buyers will be enables to simply make a request to the marketplace for people and things. This will change market dynamics, brand and merchant marketing models and consumer behavior beyond anything seen to date.
While many think social search will indeed change things the real change will be when the function of search is designed with the buyer, not the supplier, in mind.