The social media market is hot! The valuation for Facebook is through the roof at $15 billion and due to the magnificent works of upside potential in a soon-to-be public or acquired company (and a mishap by Microsoft?) Facebook has managed to “pull a Google”- stealing top coders and employees from other companies in the Valley, namely Google itself. But what happened to search? It has been relegated to be the “old web” as GigaOm puts it. Even though search is not as hot as it once was (uh, 6 months ago?), it continues to command an impressive market share and continuing to grow much more than any other internet service and at the cusp of search we find Google. As you can in the graph, Google’s search market share is over 75% and growing. To enter this market as a service provider you need to be specialized. A company/consultant should have a deep knowledge of search (1st and 2nd tier engines), statistics, analytics, market segmentation and a strong knowledge of people’s behaviors online. You need to draw conclusions from the general to the specific and build business cases with supporting data behind it. It seems to be a field in which only “pure” search marketing companies or agencies are engaging. In other words you need to be a searchhead. Avinash is a great example. His blog aims to demystify analytics – a good read even though he continues to ask if he continues to ask whether real time data is really necessary.
On the other hand we have the folks that are engaging in what has come to be known as new media. The Socialists. Podcasting, community marketing, viral marketing, twitter, facebook, myspace, utterz, seesmic, tubemogul, etc .The socialists seem to have lower barriers to entry since it is quite unchartered territory (compared to search) and the market is growing rapidly and absorbing talent quickly. An environment where social chops and the courage to get in front of a camera or a microphone with content of some value seems to be more coveted than an analytical “search” mind. It is more about building an ongoing conversation in the community in an attempt to garnish micro-influence across niche markets and to push messages important to us and the community. Chris explains how to help someone understand social media in one of his posts – an interesting read nonetheless.
Search is here to stay as long as Google continues to deliver accurate and reliable results in a fraction of a second to the world’s search queries. In an ever-changing internet environment where businesses evolve and transform at ease, the top of the cusp is always up for grabs and facebook is proving to be a colosal competitor to Google forcing the giant to review their strategy by speeding up OpenSocial.
The line between socialists and searchhead is blurring quickly which might give way to a new breed of internet marketeer who is comfortable in the multifaceted conversation and web-analytics savvy.