Social media really is a big factor in search

Gigya published an excellent white paper a year ago on the intersection of Social and Search. It is still worth reading, which is unusual in this fast-changing tech space. Some of the most interesting insights:

A majority of the referral traffic for some sites like USA Today and ESPN come from social networks.

The method for content discovery is a function of search intent and the influence of your social graph (the item is viewed as worthwhile by a person or entity to whom you are connected). Traditional search is intentional. Whereas in feeds the person viewing the items is not necessarily looking for that content or any content in particular; the item was pushed to them . They can drive a large volume of traffic, as seen above.

Then the white paper gives a practical example of how social search works on Facebook. A Facebook search on “Inception” pulls up these results:

“The first result displayed is the Inception page on As it happens, the searcher in this case has already clicked the ‘like’ button on the Inception page on, and so this user and the social object ‘inception movie on imdb’ are connected and Facebook is aware of that connection.” A Facebook friend who clicked the Like button is displayed in position number three. The rest of the results are posts by the searcher’s friends that contain the term “Inception” and web search results from Bing.

I’m a firm believer in the future potential of social and search intersection. Eventually we will get information only from those we trust on that topic. We will be able to take advantage of only the appropriate social subgroup to get answers to questions, receive suggestions, and trade information. If you wanted a restaurant recommendation, you wouldn’t need to go to Zagat, which accepts anyone’s ratings, but could look only at the recommendations of other foodies. This may be the holy grail of search, but we’re getting closer.



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