Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Social search and personal brand

This morning, I have been mostly reading about: social search. A couple of links for you: Advertising Age and Google. The premise (for the time poor) is that your friends' opinions on topics you've searched for should be returned on your Google (or Yahoo, or Bing) search results so you can see what your 'tribe' think of what you're looking for.

It's a nice idea and gives the search engine a nice rich seam of personal data to mine for future gain. That gain, however, seems difficult to quantify for the advertiser. Precisely how Toyota (for example) should design, market and support its products differently because of social search is unclear. In my view, social search will further amplify the strengths and weaknessed of particular product lines, hence polarising success and failure and leaving little middle ground for mediocre, but acceptable merchandise and services.

I suspect that we will be seeing some interesting effects of this type of service in the next couple of years. For example, will the herd behaviour that drives equity markets also manifest in buying trends? Will people deliberately manipulate their position in the online social hierarchy in order to make themselves more attractive to marketers and PR execs looking for social alphas? The whole industry of search marketing has grown out of the latter. I guess the $10 billion question is whether social search is simply an evolution of this or something new and genuinely exciting.

Answers on a post card.

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