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Google Launches SOCIAL Search – 7 Things That Excite Me

by James Ball on January 28, 2010

It’s been just over 3 months since Google announced Social Search as a new opt-in feature in Google Labs. As of yesterday, the feature is now live (beta status) to all signed in English Google searchers. The feature will be rolling out completely over the next few days. Keep checking if you cannot yet see the results as described in the video below.

Those interested and involved in social media…THIS IS BIG NEWS. I’m frankly a little stunned by the lack of buzz and discussion around this launch. Watch the video first, and then I want to bring up a few things that I think you’ll want to hear.

While the video does a great job in explaining the new feature, you may want to visit Google’s own help page on Social Search for more input. Pay close attention to the explanations about with whom and how you are connected with others. On the official Google blog, Google addresses the “beta” launch:

“We think there’s tremendous potential for social information to improve search, and we’re just beginning to scratch the surface. We’re leaving a “beta” label on social results because we know there’s a lot more we can do. If you want to get the most out of Social Search right away, get started by creating a Google profile, where you can add links to your other public online social services”

Why I’m excited:

  • Anything that aggregates information that I deem useful is a good thing.
  • Giving my trusted friends and connections a voice with prominent placement just makes good sense. A search on Google now provides information that is personally more relevant to me.
  • The feature can be customized as I see fit.
  • Social Search results are personalized, so my search experience and results are uniquely my own. You don’t get my results, and vice versa.
  • Social Search also works in Google Images.
  • The two options included in the beta release that are to the right of Social Search results are very useful: My social circle – My social content. The first takes me to an alphabetical list of my connections as Google sees them. I can expand each name to “show paths” of that connection.  The second shows me my own content that Google shares with my contacts through Social Search. I can control what the world sees by adjusting the links in my Google profile.
  • This is an endorsement of social media that brands will have a hard time ignoring. It will encourage many brands to more seriously consider their level of engagement in this space.

This is another solid step from Google into social. It is a bit alarming to again come face-to-face with how much information Google collects about me, but as we progress into a more transparent, social, and connected online world, it is to be expected. In any event, just like real-time search, we can’t shove this genie back into the bottle either. What are your initial thoughts about Google’s new toy? 

@indepthwraps January 28, 2010 at 1:12 pm

This is very exciting news, but also incredibly terrifying. I know, I know, it's already out there…might as well use it. And I will…but my fingers will be shaking as I implement it. :)

It looks to me like search results will remain generally the same, but there will be ADDED finds from our "social circle"…is that what you see?

@metzgerbusiness January 28, 2010 at 3:58 pm

James,

Thanks for this article. I think your right that there really should be a lot more hype about Social Search and what it will mean to how we collect information in the future. The truly interesting thing is that with social search viral spreading of information will even be faster. I didn't think we could move faster than we do but with innovation comes even more speed.

@smallbiztwit January 28, 2010 at 8:31 pm

James,

Thanks for the detailed info here. I grabbed the google lab social search as soon as it came up. I just looked at it quickly because I was busy and didn't put the thought into it the way you did. Great Value and thanks tuning up the Social Search now.
Sneak attack by Google they just keep turning things on and then things just start changing for everyone. Look forward to your next post.

@beadiful4you January 28, 2010 at 9:12 pm

Thanks for the summary James. Quick question and sorry if I have missed it…this new feature will allow me to input my social sites that I am connected to but will it pull from others that my "connections" or friends are involved in as well even though I am not? I am excited to test it out!

James Ball January 28, 2010 at 9:27 pm

Hello Brittany! The sites that you list in your own Google profile will be where YOUR content is pulled from for all your connections to see in THEIR Social Searches. What you see in your Social Searches will be from the content and sites that your connections…AND their connections are involved with and have listed in THEIR Google public profiles. Google will pull from "your direct connections, secondary connections (friends-of-friends), and some of the content that each of those connections has published publicly to the web.” I hope that this has answered your question. Thanks for commenting today!

@Brandon101 January 29, 2010 at 7:10 pm

Thanks for the post James. This is yet another reminder of the importance of having an established voice and also monitoring the conversations that are happening online. Augie Ray had an excellent post earlier this week on ROI of SM efforts, and he drew some clever metaphors that touch on the topic of search results. Taking Augie's point a step further, a negative review from your own social circle coming up on the front page of a Google search is going to carry some serious weight, whereas positive feedback and engagement can certainly influence purchase intent positively. Check out Augie's post if you have a moment:

http://blogs.forrester.com/marketing/2010/01/risk

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