Most of us have heard about Social Networks such as: MySpace, YouTube, Flickr, and FaceBook. Another form of Social Media is creating a buzz and online marketers are paying attention. It’s Social Search. These sites typically use social bookmarks and user feedback to organize their content. Social Search communities rely on its users to play the role of traditional search engine algorithms and determine the relevance of results. Since the results are endorsed by a group of users, many people feel that “human judgment” allows for more accurate and trusted information. In addition, users are constantly providing feedback on these communities so the results tend to be more up to date than traditional search results. For these main reasons, there is a growing population of online users who prefer social search over other search methods.
Some of the leading Social Search/Social Bookmark communities include:
digg: Members submit and vote on content. The more “diggs” a story receives, the higher the ranking on the site.
Stumbleupon: Community that allows you to share and discover new content based on specific interests/themes.
reddit: Similar to digg. All content is submitted and voted on by users and personalized to your preferences.
del.icio.us: Store and share your bookmarks in one place online. View what others have bookmarked and discover new online content.
There are pros and cons to everything and social search is no exception. There is a risk of spamming, since the users have the ability to add their input directly to these social communities. Mislabeled content is another issue. These potential issues will need to be monitored closely. It will be interesting to see how Social Search evolves and how it ultimately will co-exist with Traditional Search.