During a routine visit to the doctor, I got an opportunity to talk about my company. My doctor, whom I’ve known for years, asked me how my job – my last job, that is – was going and if I was still flying all over. I explained that I had left that gig to form my own company, OpenMindWorks, which specializes in social media, marketing and event management. He congratulated me on the leap and then looked a little puzzled as he rubbed his chin and said, “Social media, eh? So you do that LinkedIn thing?”
Yes, doc: I do that LinkedIn thing, among others.
After seeking my opinion on the future of Facebook, his next statement really caught me off guard. As it happens, he doesn’t have a lot of use for Google, the search engine, and he thinks it will disappear in a few years. His observation seemed rather random and out of context since we were talking about social media. With the exception of Google+, I don’t consider Google to be a part of the social media sphere. What he was referring to, however, was the value of community that is delivered by social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn. Google, according to the good doctor, doesn’t deliver a sense of community. Could he be right?
My doctor’s dalliance in social media is limited to Facebook; his college-age daughter has over 700 followers on Twitter. Eager to hear more of his “demise of Google” speech, I tried to draw the good doctor out. In his opinion, Facebook and Twitter are far more valuable search tools than Google. If he wants to search for a review, an opinion or information on a specific topic, he doesn’t consult Google: he surveys his Facebook friends. His daughter does the same with her Tweeps.
While I hadn’t really thought about this in a “Google is dead” context, I do have to concede that many of my friends and I do precisely the same thing. We consult our trusted social networks for advice and feedback. Our social network communities are local, meaning local to us, even when the members of these communities may live miles away. Google, however, is more impersonal and perhaps doesn’t always deliver the spot-on data we’re seeking.
Is he right: will Google, the search engine, go away? Will social communities such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter become the new search engine? Google continues to diversify its product offerings by branching out into some neat and innovative areas. As more and more customized, integrated social media communities are born, consumer tastes will continue to evolve. We’re a fickle bunch and our preferences change. Google may not go away entirely, but society will likely rely on it less and less in the years to come.