UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

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Archive for June 9th, 2010

If Social Discovery Is Beating Traditional Search, Then What?

Posted by Brian Kelly on 9 June 2010

Workshop on the Importance of the Social Web for Maximising Impact and Traffic

A year ago I facilitated sessions in a series of two-day workshop on “Improve your online presence“ which had been commissioned by the Strategic Content Alliance (SCA). In the run-up to the workshop, whilst preparing my session on how the Social Web can enhance access to resources I published a post entitled From Search Engine to Twitter Optimisation which was based on my observations that Twitter, and not Google, was becoming the most significant driver of traffic to this blog.

Further research revealed that I was not alone in noticing this trend, with a TechCrunch article being published around the same time pointing out, with evidence, that For TechCrunch, Twitter = Traffic (A Statistical Breakdown).

The Evidence

In my talks in the workshop I referenced another TechCrunch article which suggested that The Value Of Twitter Is In “The Power Of Passed Links. The venture capitalist Fred Wilson was quoted as predicting that “at current growth rates, Twitter [and Facebook] “will surpass Google [as a source of traffic] for many websites in the next year“.

That post was published on 16 June last year. On 2-3 June this year I took part in the first of a further series of workshops, again commissioned by the SCA and again delivered by myself in conjunction with Netskills. My slides had been slightly updated, but when I came to the slide referring to Fred Wilson’s prediction I had to stop and say “This isn’t a prediction – it has happened!“.

My comments were made in the context of a presentation given by George Munroe in the opening session of the workshop. George referred to a blog post on Search and Rescue: How to Become Findable and Shareable in Social Media published in SearchEngineWatch on 1 April 2010. This reviewed data from Compete from November 2009 which observed that a number of the top media properties are already seeing a dominant effect in traffic from social networking services.

As can be seen USA Today is getting 32% of its traffic from Social Networking services and only 6% from Google!

The Implications

Such evidence supports the observations I have been making on my blog.  But if this is true more widely, then what are the implications?  If, to restate the question, traffic is increasingly being driven by recommendation rather than metadata and clever algorithms, what are the implications for service providers?

For me it is clear that service providers will need to be engaging with the Social Web.  There will be a need to ensure that one’s social network is cultivated and maintained – and the associated dangers identified and avoided.

But I’d be interested in your thoughts on my question: if traffic is increasingly being driven by recommendation rather than metadata and clever algorithms, what are the implications for service providers?

Is this a valid supposition and, if so, what should we be doing, what should we be doing differently and what should we not be doing?

Posted in Social Networking | 10 Comments »