When consumers want more candid information about a topic – say, real pictures from other people about the latest wedding venue in town, or frank reviews about a hot new restaurant – Google and other search engines no longer provide the most relevant data in real-time.
But social media does. And more and more consumers are turning to social to discover raw, user-generated content that isn’t indexed in regular search engines.
How Does Social Search Work?
Using social search is as easy as logging into your platform of choice (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc) and using the search function. In this I-Want-To micro-moment, you want to quickly know something, do something or go somewhere, and the relevance of what your search uncovers greatly depends on other users’ micro-moments and how they (knowingly or unknowingly) categorize the content they publish on social media as they go through their days.
Any time a person posts on social media using hashtags, location tagging and check-ins, they instantly become a “micro-content producer,” making their content public in order to share their experience and connect with like-minded consumers. Whether the content is relevant and useful to you is subjective, but the raw, unfiltered results in social search is part of the appeal to most users.
Search Multiple Social Media Platforms At Once
For casual users who only use Facebook or Pinterest, searching directly from the site isn’t an inconvenience. But for more serious searchers who want to get the pulse on a topic from across all social sites, there are social search engines with aggregate results in one place. Smashfuse and SocialMention are some of the most popular, and are free and easy to use, returning real-time results from all the major social sites.
Of course, not to be outdone in the search sector, even Google offers a free social media search engine called Social Searcher.
How Can A Brand Leverage Social Search?
In a society dominated by social media with consumers who strive to be in-the-know at all times, social search provides the trending information about people, places and events they crave.
For brands, the important thing to remember is that a lot of consumers are more interested in content created by other users – not content put out by brands themselves. That’s not to say you should halt your own social media marketing strategies, but instead shift your focus to encourage more engagement from customers and followers.
Create unique, but intuitive, hashtags for your brand and use them in your own posts. Don’t hesitate to ask users to use them as well! Also make sure the information on your location listings is accurate, and ask customers to check-in when they arrive to your place of business, or share their content using specific hashtags. Most people know that when they check-in, use location tagging or a hashtag in their social media posts, the content becomes public. The reason people choose to do this is specifically because they want their friends and family to know where they are, what they’re experiencing at that moment, and what their opinion of the place or brand is.
And that’s precisely what other users are looking for when they use social search.