Social Search – Revolution NOW!

Social Search – Revolution NOW!

The internet is going through a revolution these days, similar to the one it went following the release of Google’s Page rank in dealing with the relatively new concept of “Social search”. Now that the social networks are well established its time to leverage the vast knowledge that has been accumulated there and revise the way we deal with information and knowledge. Various companies are developing different strategies in dealing with social search and it will be very interesting to see where todays revolutions will lead us.

 

Somewhere at the turn of this century, Google has transformed the world of internet search completely with the introduction of its famous “Page rank” on which her search results are still based on today and in similar ways in other leading search engines in the market. At some point it has become clear that simply crawling the web automatically while indexing the various pages is not enough to produce a relevant sorted list of results and neither can a group of people large and skilled as it can be will be able to canvas the net and catalog it for the rest of us. If you haven’t been around or simply don’t remember, you can check out the post “Popular Search Engines in the 90’s: Then and Now” and get a clue as to the major transformation search engines have gone through in the past 14 years.
Old-days-search-engine
Search engine from the “old days”…

Search.Twitter.Com

When I mention twitter search, I don’t mean the search box that’s in the top of the page before you login or at the side bar after you’ve logged in. Oddly, you won’t find a direct clear link to the professional search engine twitter provides – the one that covers all activity in the social network – Http://search.twitter.com or the advanced version http://search.twitter.com/advanced.
Diving a little bit deeper into this page you can quickly recognize the true power behind micro blogging – the ability to focus on specific tweets with any combination of words, people’s names, a definitive location from which the tweet originated (something like: display tweets within a 2 miles radios from 42nds street, Manhattan), date range and even the ability to filter the tweets by negative and positive attitudes or ones that contain a question.
Note, within the search results, Twitter will push the 3 tweets that have been ReTweeted the most followed by all other tweets in chronological order. In addition, the results will include tweets in which the search term appears within linked content and not necessarily only within the tweet sentence (in order words, search results are not limited to the tweet itself but extend to the linked content). Recently, Twitter has limited the date range to few recent days, probably due to overload from which the system suffers but there are other solutions that will still enable you to search tweets history and it’s reasonable to assume Twitter will expand the range again in the future.
Twitter-Advanced-search
What they have to say about it on Twitter?
This Social search that focuses only on Twitter content holds huge potential for marketing professionals as well as for regular people interesting in researching a particular subject and get results that are linked with identified individuals. For instance, you can locate a restaurant that got good reviews within a 1 mile radius from a specific location… the strategy in this case is relaying on public wisdom in a similar way to one of the leading principles behind the page rank – the more people reference something on the social network, the probability of it being relevant and accurate to the person doing the search increases.

Google Social Circle

Naturally, one of the more interesting experiments tested by Google these days also deals with social search. If you search using www.google.com (Searching from localized Google sites does not support this still), as identified users with your Gmail account you may find a special type of results hiding on the first page, results that originate from content that has been published by people directly connected to your social circle.
google-social-cirle
Search using your Google social circle
It seems this experiment is in early stages at the moment and it will probably be integrated with the social network Google is expected to release in the future (the rumored Facebook competitor Google.me). At this stage, in order to receive social search results you are required to have an active Google profile as well as the rest of people connected to your social circle.
To checkout your own personal social circle as Google sees it you can follow this link: http://www.google.com/s2/search/social#socialcircle
In this case, the strategy is to push content that originated from the user’s personal social network (friends profile pages and connected content, Google buzz as well as other social networks) within the general search results provided for the user, based on the assumption that content with which members of your social network deals with, may very well be of particular interest when you search. This will eventually augment the algorithm of the page rank probably.

Sentimnt – my social archive

An interesting startup that has been making some headlines recently under the name Sentimnt promises to allow an overall search spanning various social networks and specific content sources in order to track a certain peace of information with which the user may have ran into in the past. Let’s say for example that a friend published a few months ago some tips in his status line or blog on how to handle communication with your cable company in case of some problem… at the time that information was not relevant to you so you move on. Today, when you ran into a similar problem, if you want to go back to those tips a before calling the service desk, you will be able to search through your personal social archive and track the specific post (while if you do a similar search using Google, you’ll be overwhelmed with a lot more other results before the one you are interested – if it was even indexed).
Sentimnt-archive-with-sentiments
Sentimnt – your sentimental archive…

This service is currently in beta, you can connect to it only following a direct invite which you can apply for in the site. I’ve yet to receive and invite although I applied a few days ago so I’ll get back to you if and when I have something more to report on this…

It seems their business model will include limited search functionality for free with the ability to expand with a monthly paid subscription. The search engine is expected to cover RSS feeds you subscribe too, your Google reader, Facebook data from your friends, Twitter data from the people you follow, Gmail and social bookmarks buy Delicious (it seems you’ll have to grant direct access to the search engine into all these accounts while completely exposing them to access by the search engine – what may very well be considered by many as unacceptable).
The goal of this search engine, is to serve as a personal archive that covers all the content to which the user gets exposed too and provide dedicated personalized and unique results to each individual based on their social network (while combining several social networks) while completely ignoring all other search results to which the user is not directly linked in one way or another (we already know where we can get that type of data). In this way, a novice with a limited social network is not expected to gain much value from this engine and it’s likely he will rely on traditional search engines. But the more active and big his social network becomes, the more value he can gain from the information and knowledge his friends and colleagues share, with every item identified and linked with a specific individual that you can follow-up with for additional information if you wish.
To summarize, we’ve seen how different companies tackle the concept of social search:
  • Limited focused search on a particular social network allowing segmentation of the results for drill down using advanced search as done by Twitter.
  • Using a user’s personal social circle to include results coming from his linked contacts, trying to improve the relevancy of search results as Google is experimenting with.
  • Creating a combined archive of several social networks, allowing you to track a single content item to which you’ve been exposed in the past from your personal content sources as the Sentimnt search engine promises to deliver.
Vive la revolution!

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