Monday, March 29, 2010

Search Revolution: Social Media Can Save You Time (With a Little Help from Your Friends)

Many people say they don't have time for social media, are not on Facebook, can't follow the flow of Twitter, don't keep up with LinkedIn, never tried a ning, would never bother with a blog. They have too much email, spend too much time on the internet already looking for things; they simply don't have time to get into these new information streams. "Time wasters" they say - "Where do you find the time?" they ask.

Would they ever believe that using social media might actually save them time? This is what the experts are saying, and they point to the coming revolution in Search.

I recently went to the Social Business Summit in London, and this was one of the big discussion topics - the change in how people will search for information in the new social media environment. It was predicted that in 5 years, Google would no longer be the way we get our information. Google would be out, and our Friends would be in.

Instead of googling something and getting either 1,300 pages of nothing good for too specific searches (e.g. "lighting shops" + my village in Switzerland), or 11,300,000 pages for searches that are too broad ("light shops Switzerland"), people will increasingly use their social media networks of friends and followers to get the granuality of information they need to answer their questions, fast (e.g the Facebook Group that some women in my village set up called "Move and Improve" that shares information on home renovation and local vendors, in English no less). I will never google local electricians again.

Along with this, out goes celebrity advertising. We will no longer want to know what kind of watch to buy from Tiger Woods, we will go directly to one of our friends whom we know has done recent research in watches locally (because she is writing about it on her blog). Now that we have so much more information on our Friends and their preoccupations, whether through their Fan Pages or the discussions they start on LinkedIn Groups, or their incessant Tweets on one topic or another, we will begin to use these more personal filters, much closer to home and our interests, to shortcut our own lengthy research through broad search pathways. Our Friends rate things, they vote, they share their favorite links, videos, photos. And, because of our personal connection, if we ask them a question, they will probably respond.

And our Friends are not only social, we have our Plaxo's, our LinkedIns, our nings, our professional networks with their Web2.0 platforms where we can ask for and get work-related information, from those whom we know are experts in our topic-of-the-day.

Our Personal Knowledge Management Systems will become a connected web of Friends whom we know personally (or at least virtually), and where we will go for all kinds of information. They will become our Search engines of the future. Hours and hours of Google out, a quick check with our Friends in.

2 comments:

ian said...

Hi Jillian,
Very good post. I agree with you 100%. If you look at traffic in the US last week there was more on facebook than google. Facebook is becoming the web for a lot of people. It's where you hang out, discuss, share, ask, and soon it's where you'll do a lot of your buying. Thanks for sharing.
Ian

Gillian Martin Mehers said...

Thanks Ian, that is certainly what people are saying. It is also a powerful argument for institutions to either allow people to use FB or to create a facebook-like site within their companies. Imagine that instead of just a phone list, or photos and bios on an internal knowledge network, every person had a "wall" where they could answer the question "What are you doing right now?" and from time to time they would put things up there, link their latest project document, or publication, or put on a link to a meeting they attended, with a short summary of what they learned (much better than trip reports that get terminally filed). All these things help with informal learning and connecting within a social institution.