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HOW TO… Make a success of Social Search

Social search is being touted as the next generation of search.  By incorporating the social graph, or in plain English, information on the social...

Social search is being touted as the next generation of search.  By incorporating the social graph, or in plain English, information on the social networking profile of individuals in search results, sites like Google intend to become ever more relevant to their users.

This is increasingly important in a world where information is going into overload, and accessing relevant content risks becoming an art form rather than a science.  Social search is a new way forward, giving greater context and currency to results.  This is particularly vital when considering the sheer volume of content added each minute online - over 120,000 tweets, 3,500 Flickr photos, over half a million posts on Facebook – quickly making the traditional search approach outdated to the casual user.

With sites like Pinterest taking the web by storm, the ability for social search to keep up with the channels being used online will continue to be a challenge for all forms of search engines.  If they fail to keep up with users’ habits, they will fail to remain relevant to them.

Tips for organisations:

1. Be active.  Making your website SEO friendly is still important, but as your website is no longer your only web presence, there is an imperative to be active across multiple relevant social channels.

2. Be relevant and topics.  Make sure you are active online but don’t just comment on everything and anything. Stay focused and be smart – look for relevant trending topics and be involved in the conversation.  Don’t become part of the noise though, be clear who you are talking to and make sure this aligns to your brand.  By ensuring consistency across all of your channels will increase your findability and being relevant to your audience will improve your friend-ability.

3. Don’t just think in black and white. Develop a clear content strategy across all of your channels (online and off) considering both the message and the medium.  Video, imagery, infographics and audio have an increasingly important role to play in promoting you and your business, and can be shared  more quickly than words alone.

4. Your staff are your spokespeople.  All members of your organisation are now findable through social search.  This means greater emphasis will be needed to provide guidance and support for staff to protect both your brand and your teams. Consistent guidelines and training are needed, but also understanding and support.  Having a clear brand strategy is nothing new, but this now needs to cover social media and how you are represented via social search.

5. Share and share alike.  Be sure to make all of your content shareable.  +1, Like, Tweet and PinIt buttons must be as prevalent on your content as the navigation and ‘contact us’ buttons on your website. 

Overall, social search will make it even easier for online users to see the face(s) of your organisation – inside and out.  To make the most of this opportunity, organisations must employ a clearer corporate-wide communications strategy, supportive governance for employees and smart topical thinking to maintain relevance in an age of search at the speed of thought.

Useful links for reference and stats:

If you printed Facebook:

Volume of content added on social networks: