Social media accounts for 18% of all time spent online. That number is only increasing as users turn to social networks for much more than just social interaction.
Such continued reliance on social media has led to the expansion of advanced social capabilities—specifically, search. A crucial component in all aspects of the Web, search features allow users to inquire, discover, learn, and connect in all personal and professional facets.
Many social networks include internal search features that index solely their own content. That barely skims the surface of search possibilities within social media, and the launch of Facebook's Graph Search prompts immediate recognition of the awe-inspiring potential.
The combination of search and social is revolutionary in how it uniquely blends the way people think, interact, and communicate. Users flock to specific sites for different reasons; for instance, they go to Facebook to connect with friends and to YouTube to watch the latest music video. Those lines have begun to blur, however, as social networks enrich their offerings to increase the time that users spend on their site.
According to Search Engine Journal, "2013's emerging trends will focus on how to measure, analyze, and engage audiences effectively on social networks." Search will play a large part in that, as user engagement means providing as many on-site resources as possible.
Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+ are five of the largest social networks today. We've examined each of their search capabilities, focusing on three major points: what is offered in social search on each network, which demographics are searching, and how to optimize content to better fit search needs.
Courtney Gibb is a content writer, marketer, and social strategist at ZOG Digital, a search and social media marketing technology company in Scottsdale, Arizona, offering SEO, social media marketing, paid advertising, design and development, and an analytics platform.