Are we approaching a web 2.0 tipping point? Or have we already arrived? Global internet brands, Google and Facebook are indeed facing off with governments, their own users, and indeed, each other in an almighty battle for the heart, mind and soul of the search and social web. As they slug it out over the issue of personal data, privacy and advertising revenue we may yet see more convulsive changes rip through the very fabric of the online continuum!
It’s important for SME, eCommerce and corporate site owners, alike, to be aware of how the web seems to be remodelling itself and where the future of online marketing may be heading. Keeping your head down and just getting on with checking the daily click traffic from your PPC ads in the belief that very little of the fallout from the ‘search wars’ will affect your social-local neck of the woods may not be the way to continue. Best keep a weather eye open!
The big issue centres around the so-called "walled gardens" that behemoth brands like Facebook and Apple have built for themselves and for their expanding empires of fans, followers and users to operate within, which are inaccessible to Google indexing. Feeling the social winds of change, the search engine, has been attempting to flex the muscles of social engagement as part of organic search marketing strategies. Hence, the first fatal foray with the privacy disaster of Google Buzz, which made users' email contact lists public, and of course, most recently, Google+.
Of interest is the search engine’s claim for 170 million Google+ users, which some observers suggest may just be a record of everyone who logs into the newly ‘unified’ Google account of all their available services wrapped up within “a common social layer." A more realistic figure for Google + is probably around 25 million users. By contrast, latest surveys say that Facebook can boast around 800 million users and even Twitter can claim more at 300 million .
Google’s aggregated user claim may have something to do with sources finding that search traffic via the social media networking sites such as Facebook, increasingly overtakes the number of inbound clicks from traditional search engines.
The potential for the internet to be split off into separate community "bubbles" of audiences with similar interests, which may no longer lead to new discovery can be one result of multichannel fragmentation and user behaviour. The solution lies as much to do with David the SME site owner integrating and optimising content creation, distribution and marketing to reach across platforms and channels as it is to do with the clash of the search and social Goliaths!