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Finding Social Search at SES NY 07

I2m_seslogo I had the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion yesterday at the Search Engine Strategies show in NY all about Social Media Optimization.  It was interesting to see how the idea has progressed and search pros are implementing tactics and techniques for social media marketing.  Though I didn’t agree with all of the views shared by my fellow panelists about the best practices (or who you are likely to influence by using SMO), the thing that I found interesting was how SEO centric most of the views were.  I think Social Media Marketing is about much more than SEO or search engine results.  Done right, it can foster brand evangelists, engage customers in dialogue and support other marketing efforts.  A wider trend that I have noted from several other interactive shows such as CommunityNext and even some sessions at SxSW, however, was the evolving role of social search tools broader than Google or search engines and the rise of communities as tools to help people find information.  Social search is redefining the way people find, rate, share and consume information online.  Have a quick look at the recent headlines from one of any blogs that focus on new sites and technologies such as TechCrunch or Mashable (among others), and you will get a clear picture of how true this is. 

Thinking about this and walking through the Expo, the one thing that struck me most about the exhibitors was the lack of what I would consider Web2.0 companies or ideas.  For the most part, the Expo seemed identical to what it was in 2006.  Same venue, same three floor format, and mostly the same exhibitors.  In a nutshell, it was companies selling search campaign management software, new search engines with vertical focuses, or search marketing agencies.  In a world where new startups are springing up every day and the world of search has innovations from visual search to mobile and video search tools – the Expo seemed very Web 1.0 to me.  Perhaps I missed the real innovative tools, but aside from a few standouts like Hakia (which also has a great campaign inspired by Cisco’s Human Network) or ZoomInfo, I left disappointed by the chance to see real innovation in search at the Expo. 

In terms of social search and social media optimization, the one thing that came out of our panel which I was a bit bothered by was that attendees could easily have left with the impression that many of the SMO tactics employed by the panelists were only suitable for small businesses or capable of reaching teenagers with time on their hands.  I read a good summary of our panel by Kate Zimmerman over at SearchViews which shared a similar conclusion.  Search and the rise of social search has big implications for large brands and requires a shift in thinking.  It’s a viewpoint I bring to my clients every day as I talk to them about their search efforts and how consumers are hearing about (and talking about) their brands.  Adding a social search track to the third day of SES this year was a great step.  Looking forward to the future, I think we’ll see a larger part of the event (and the exhibitors) dedicated to this area.  Based on where other interactive shows are, I thought I might have found more of it this year at SES NY.

  • http://www.leisenberg.info Manfred Leisenberg

    Rohit, I very much share your point of view. Since I am based in Northern Germany I can tell youn that the idea of social search is not really popular yet.
    Though, I was able to place a paper concerning the Idea of SMO in a leading German Paper.
    Have a look at the online issue of this paper (unfortunately it is in German):
    link to computerwoche.de

    Cheers,
    Manfred

  • http://www.lazworld.com Dave Lazar

    I asked the panel how to measure ROI on social media. I was looking for the answer that social media can influence people (and how to measure influence), but did not get anything close to that nor was it mentioned.

  • http://jpannu.blogspot.com/ Jagdeep_Singh_Pannu

    Hi Rohit,

    You’ve got excellent information on your blog. I am sure the future of search is going to be based upon user inputs.

    I had this idea about a search engine, which could search social networks; I have always felt that results would be more relevant due to user-generated content on these social media sites.

    Google recently made this possible with Google Co-op. So I put together a search engine using this Google utility, which currently searches around 150+ social networking sites. Try it out here:

    Search Social Media Networks

    You might like to play around with operators; e.g. try:

    rohit bhargava -site:http://typepad.com

    or

    rohit bhargava filetype:pdf

    Let me know what you think of it.

  • http://www.ittechnology.us/ Mariusz Gasiewski

    Unfortunately it is easier to do Social Media Marketing creating plugin for Firefox than with creating something really worthy. Especially this kind of situation we have in Poland, where Social Media was taken over by people in age of 17-21.

  • http://www.fisssh.com Craig Hughes

    Our search engine fisssh! (http:/www.fisssh.com) features a ‘social’ search range that scours sites such as MySpace etc.

    We have found it to be quite a popular range with our users and as such queries are increasing day on day.

    In time, I feel social networks and wikis will play a mucher larger part in how we all find relevant information, somehow acting as the ‘consensus’ of opinion for our questions and queries.

    link to social.fisssh.com

  • http://www.cameronolthuis.com Cameron Olthuis

    Rohit, Unfortunately we didn’t get the chance to meet. Hopefully next time.

    I agree with a lot of your views on the conference, you’re spot on. The other thing I felt about the SMO panels is that some of the presenters did a very poor job of representing social media marketing. I felt that they portrayed it as very “spammy.” Now I can see why many in the industry are against it.

    With the exception of a few speakers I definitely think those panels need some new faces up there.

  • http://aidrop.jp/en/blog/ Charlie Rockwave

    Hi Rohit,

    I LOVE your blog! Thanks for giving away ALL the insight!

    Here in Japan where I am currently based, I have the priviledge of working with a truly maniac, daredevil development team led by gent that is a walking encyclopedia of all things ‘search’ and ‘SEO’.

    However…

    I am sometimes feel that I am a lone wolf out in the wild barking at the moon when I try to keep us focused on the fact that search engines are simply a tool to reach the real, live human beings, with beating hearts and boiling blood who are our end users.

    Rohit, I think you are right on about not losing focus on the brand and on the ‘believers’. I am looking forward to hearing more about your views on ‘social search’ in the near future!

    Charlie Rockwave
    Skype me!: charlie.rockwave
    link to aidrop.jp