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Facebook, Foursquare and Google 2.0

One of the phenomenon’s sweeping the internet worldz right now is social media, and if you’ve been on a computer in the last decade, the words MySpace and Friendster may sound familiar. More recently there have been some networks that specialize in certain areas and a lot of these can be really useful for small businesses. Take Foursquare for example, a network based entirely off of your location. If a company wants to offer deals to certain customers that check into their local location, it’s very easy to do so.

Another example would be, say you wanted to connect through a business network and find connections to different business people and companies, LinkedIn is an awesome place to be. But it is ultimately dominated by one big one. Facebook. So naturally a lot of businesses focus their efforts there. But, what is social? Why should I be social? Well if you want an answer all you really have to do is look at Google.

Social is something a lot of people and businesses are wrestling with. Or at least how to use it properly. Slowly we are starting to get it. One of the biggest examples of this, is Google themselves who took what they learned and actually applied it to themselves as a product. Facebook was the kick in the pants that got Google intrigued but not really wholeheartedly into it. They tried to buy Facebook, they developed some social products that we’re just not ready. But, that all changed last year when Google became Google+. Now you might say “Wait don’t you mean Google launched Google+?”  Nuh uh. Nope. Google+ became, or at least started to become Google 2.0 as a whole.

What changed? Basically, Google became human. So here’s what I mean. Traditionally Google is like the class nerd. Crazy smart, does everything in his head, can’t really socialize, is awkward and just doesn’t know how to interact. Google was an algorithm company and still is. They made some of the best methods of searching out info that was relevant to you. But when Facebook came, things changed, people we’re now asking friends, not Google, which place was the best in their area, what the best song was, and these interests became important for Facebook to begin recommending things themselves. That was Google’s job. Google was pretty much forced to evolve to where they understood social.

Here’s an example of what’s changed:

In 2011 Google launched an update to their search rankings called Search Plus Your World or ‘SPYW’ as a test on their US site. Now it’s tied pretty deeply into Google+ so let’s see what happens when I go looking for the best video game now with SPYW and my normal Google results.

With Social Integration:

What is the Best Video Game?

Without Social Integration:

Google + Results

Now there are a couple things you should note. The biggest and most visible one being results. The results are different. I’m actually getting personalized results from people that I follow on Google+ showing up above the News (which is probably quite a bit more recent), and videos have been knocked all the way off the first page. That’s a big deal. Basically Google’s not trying to answer your question as a hard fact, rather it’s giving recommendations from friends and influential people in the tech community, in this case at least. The thing is, if you have a Google+ account and are following different people that are into video games, this would look very different.

Social is very much about being human and interacting on a human level. So things like social recommendations like what you saw in the example above are pretty key to how Google sees themselves doing search. Rather than relying solely on an algorithm, Google will use social signals from your friends, and people you follow to better find a result you’d be interested in. Now if you ever thought social was a passing fad this should at least put that to rest. Google’s not the only one doing it. Microsoft is trying to one up them and they’ve added deep integration with Facebook along with input from Twitter and Google+.

So what do you guys think? Does Google need to be more social or has social gone too far? Let us know