Social Search: Competition = Opportunity

02 Mar

Last week in my post Social CRM: Opportunity Knocking I discussed the flip-side of common online privacy concerns highlighting opportunities for individuals and small businesses. With the rise of Social CRM solutions aggregating personal information to paint a picture of who you are to others I noted the importance of  actively managing your online profiles and accounts. To extend this point further I wanted to share with you another area of opportunity for those who are managing their online presence in the Social Search space. Enjoy Part 3 of 3 on the topic of privacy and social media.

It’s been roughly 14 months since I wrote Why Social Media Matters to Photographers and in this time it’s very likely that the exploration of this new communication medium has resulted in your creation of multiple accounts either to experiment with or align into a larger communication strategy. In the past year Social Media use has exploded and the large search engines have taken note. So as to not become obsolete search engines have begun spidering entries in many social media communities to display alongside their traditional search results. Google quickly realized the best way to make sense of all this information in relation to individual identity was not to necessarily rely on algorithms to map things together, but to rely on individuals to piece their online presence together into a single profile… enter Google Profiles in mid-2009. In creating your Google Profile you can actively list sites that pertain to your online persona and footprint in a similar fashion noted in Social CRM: Opportunity Knocking. As an example here’s my Google profile page… feel free to follow me.

In late 2009 Google launched Social Search, 6 months after the launch of Google Profiles, enabling a new means to find information with in your social network. Google maps your relationship to the contacts in your social network and spiders content found with in the listed sites of each of your friends Google Profiles. The end result… for each of your searches Google will present the traditional results reflective of all content across the web and a special sub-set of results reflective of content amongst your contacts. To get a better idea of what this means see the video and screenshots below. (more after the jump)

Example 1

Click to Enlarge
Example 2

Click to Enlarge

Why is this of importance?

To beat the same drum in Why Social Media Matters to Photographers being networked provides benefits. In an almost counter intuitive fashion the greater you’re networked with your professional contacts, peers and even your competition the greater likelihood that a client can find you or your work. With “Google Profiles” and “Google Search” Google enables the intelligent creation of custom search based on niche.

To exemplify my point, in the screen captures to the left, I conducted a Google search for “Golden Gate Bridge Stock Photo”. As you’d imagine there are many web entries for this. At the bottom of the normal Google search results in Example 1 you’ll find a brief listing of results from my network. In this case content from my competition and friend David Sanger is included with my own. Clicking on “Results from people in your social circle for Golden Gate Bridge Stock Photo” displays the full listing of results as seen in Example 2 (enter another competitor and friend Gary Crabbe). With the proper connections it is possible for others in and beyond your known social network to find you.

If you’re at the top of the rankings for certain search terms you might be resistant to the idea of going networking crazy with Google Profiles, but no one can be at the top of every result nor can one be at the top of one result indefinitely. Google is constantly changing their algorithms and Social Search provides an alternate mechanism in the mysterious world of Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

I’m of the mindset that participation in Google Profiles and leveraging Social Search is of greater benefit to my business than detriment. Whether networked in this fashion or not my competitors and I surface in search results on several keywords as it is. We also compete regularly through placement of our images in agencies. I’m happy to let my work stand on its own and any way it can be found is a good thing.

The combination of Google Profiles, which provides an active mechanism to manage ones public information and shape ones online persona, and Google Social Search, which creates a unique custom search between you and your social network,  feeds the maturation of user defined custom search. A custom search powered and shaped by data you actively provide. This is an incredibly valuable resource particularly coming from the 800 lb. gorilla in the search industry. Google as of April 2010 accounted for over 65% market share in the search space.

Given the ubiquitous nature of Google it’s critical to make it as easy as possible to be found and Google Profiles and Google Social Search enable you to do just that. So consider this a gentle reminder while its fair to be concerned about privacy and rights grab concerns with social media sites, don’t let it blind you from seeing emerging opportunities where you can manage and leverage your public information. Making your personal data and/or information public can be of benefit just be sure to manage it wisely and leverage it through trusted resources.

You’ve found my blog, but you’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg… follow me on Twitter, Facebook and FriendFeed.I also invite you to listen and subscribe to my podcast “EXIF and Beyond” featuring photographer interviews and the chronicles of creating some of my photography.

Related Articles:
How Google Social Search Can Help You Get New Business for Your Photo Studio – Trevor Current
(coincidentally posted today as well)

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Social Search: Competition = Opportunity

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