For many years now Google has, in many people’s eyes, been the gateway to the internet. It is no coincidence that even the action “to Google something” has entered everyday language, transcending generations and languages. And with good reason, the tech giant is by far the best at what it does and is continually evolving and improving.
Google has developed the experience of searching for information to such a high standard there is no wonder it has such dominance of the search market. No other company can even come close to Google when it comes to fulfilling search queries.
However, there is one sphere of search that the social media platforms are starting to gain some traction; product research.
Research shows that 16-24 year olds are much likely than older generations to use alternative platforms t search engines to find out more about products they wish to buy.
Of course, one obvious reason for this may be that younger users are heavier users of social media than older generations, therefore are more comfortable with it as a platform and are aware of all its capabilities.
However, I think the main reason behind this, is that Google indexes mainly corporate retail websites, “official” review sites and a fairly large number of independent bloggers. Although it is a huge amount of information, it is finite.
Whereas unlike Google, the social media platforms have an almost constant stream of individual users posting content about what they had for breakfast or what they wore that day. The number of people who will post an image on their Instagram hugely outweighs the number of fashion bloggers, who take their time to write a piece on the latest trend.
This means that users have a much larger pool of reference material on social media than they might be able to find on Google. There is so much more user generated content for people to take inspiration and advice from.
Up to now the social networks have focused much more of their advertising on demographics, interests and web activity. However, this change in behaviour by users, suggests that there may be an untapped advertising opportunity; serving ads directly to users who have searched in social media.
I don’t think it will be long before we see PPC style ads rolled out alongside social searches. As with any change to social platforms, I am sure there will be some initial resistance; however, these very quickly become the norm and people learn to live with them, and sometimes even learn them.
Should Google be worried? I don’t think so; as a service they are so entrenched into the customer mind-set that most people will still use them as the gateway to the internet and any information they need. However, I think it highlights Google’s failure to make headway into social media and will only see digital media budgets being spread more diversely than previously, as people use platforms in a way that might not be their primary functionality.