At the dawn of the Internet age, information was the most important form of content for businesses. For that reason, traditional search engines, like AOL, Google, and Yahoo!, flourished. However, as the digital world evolves, more and more content must be sorted through to find what’s real and what’s valuable. There are times, as a consumer, when I search for information on Google. But, when the results show up, I find myself being more and more skeptical and asking the question, “but is this ‘top-ranked’ business really the best option for what I need?”
Google’s ranking is based on an algorithm, or in another word, a robot. SEO (search engine optimization) companies have perfected the science of writing pages upon pages of optimized content in order to convince Google’s algorithm, that that particular brand is number one.
But, at the end of the day, are those brands who hire the SEO companies actually number one,when it comes to good business?
Sure, review sites like Yelp! are good because they usually showcase real people with real experiences. But, one of the first things any marketing agency will tell a client to do to get started, is have their employees and their employees’ family members go on those review sites, and create pseudo-consumer accounts, and then leave positive feedback.
Still, as consumers, we’re trusting robots.
What sets social media apart from traditional search engines and essentially, robots, is the fact that you’re dealing with real humans, and not only that, you know those humans, personally (most of the time). Instead of typing “best Italian food in __(insert city)__” into Google and searching, you’re probably more likely to post a status on Facebook to your local connections, and ask, “where’s the best place for Italian food in __(insert city)__?” I’m not sure about baby boomers, but for millennials and beyond, this is the new search, when it comes to discovering local businesses.
At the heart of the matter, as much as social media is looked at as a “digital trend,” it’s really more about human connection than any other form of digital communication. Social media is bringing back the value of being committed to good business. Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, are holding businesses accountable- because nobody wants a negative review showing up to one customer’s network of 500+ local, potential customers.
Good business and human connection are still the number one driving forces behind productivity, and revenue. With that, you can only get true human connection for business in one place on the Internet, and that’s social media.
Ultimately, here’s the difference between social and search: When you want a recommendation for a good business, who do you trust more? A robot, or a human that you know and trust?
Originally published on March 30, 2016