Posted March 19, 2009 3:46 pm by with 23 comments

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killer-fbSo far this week, we’ve wondered if Google cares about social, after an analyst said that Google is ignoring social search because they’re jealous of social networks. But now they may have something new to fear from Facebook, the most popular social network worldwide: imminent death.

Or at least that’s what Henry Blodget says after a presentation by Ross Sandler of RBC. Although Facebook’s traffic to Google has more than doubled in the last year (19% of Google sessions come from FB, up from 9% last year), Facebook’s worldwide traffic is growing at an alarming rate—one that could surpass Google in another two to three years (in terms of unique visitors).


It’s the end of the world as we search marketers know it! It’s like when the hula hoop came out, everyone immediately stopped drinking Kool-Aid—and just look where the powdered soft drink industry is now!

(What? You can still buy Kool-Aid, Tang and generic products at every grocery store on the planet? Oh…)

I know it’s really easy to forget this sometimes, but Google and Facebook are two different things. For now, as Sandler rightly points out, they even complement one another. And even if Facebook becomes every single person on earth’s start page, somehow I don’t think that’s going to sound a death knell for Google. (Or is it really difficult to remember to type in “” in the address bar? Oh, wait, nm—I guess it is.)

As I’ve said more than once over the past couple weeks, we have to remember that social and search simply aren’t the same thing. They may have some big overlap: sometimes, yes, it’s better to rely on actual humans whose judgment you trust when you’re searching for something. But by and large, social and search serve two different purposes. I don’t expect Google to tell me what my 200 closest friends are doing right now, and I don’t expect Facebook to find me the time of sunset for March 13, 2010 in Chicago.

What do you think? Even assuming Facebook can sustain its growth, can Facebook “kill” Google?

  • I personally have never used Facebook, and I don’t plan to. Go Google!


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  • It is just part of product growth cycle. Facebook is at the exponential growth stage whereas google is already at the steady growth stage.

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  • Totally agree with your take on it Jordan. And from one regard it’s just like Yahoo Vs Google. Yahoo owns a lot of web properties and gets all those eyeballs as a result. Yet when it comes to search, Yahoo is nearly irrelevant. So it really doesn’t matter in terms of how many eyeballs as much as “what can this web channel provide to me that the other can’t?

    And that’s why unless FaceBook has some hidden “corner the search market” plan, there’s no problem here. And even then, look at all the other players who have and continue to try to out-Google Google. Even ex Googlers can’t do that.

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  • It is comparing apples and organges you can’t do it. I do not Google or Facebook as may start page and I can still find both of them when I need them. Like you said I do not go to Google to see what my friends or up to and I go not go to Facebook to see what time the moon comes up tomorrow and phase it is in.

    Bo Tipton
    The Ornery Markter

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  • I guess it depends of the amount of value obtained from social search (which is very, very young right now). If Facebook, Twitter, etc… can provide that value, then I could see it tipping in favor of social. And IMO they could only provide that value on-par with Google until some social saturation point is reached and algos are created to take advantage of it as Google did with the web back in ’98.

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  • ifan

    I use facebook, and I do not like their service. I am planning to leave facebook, but I will keep using google. Guess this period is the growth stage for facebook, but their growth can not sustain unless their management people do some right decisions for their consumers instead of for their pockets.

  • No!
    Google is simple, clean and elegant. It just does what you want, on the first try.
    Facebook is a great big cluster-F.
    Google is a money machine, Facebook is, well, not.
    Not likely.

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  • Ok, I just dont get how you can compare Facebook and Google.

    Since when you can search the web on Facebook? Maybe there is something I’m missing….

    Its like saying Pepsi will kill McDonald’s

  • Jordan McCollum

    @Jeff—my point exactly!

  • Gormangahst

    You can’t search for anything at Facebook except applications and other people. but you can search for people who are on Facebook with Google (and search for any other topic or subject you can think of).

    Facebook will not kill Google. But the Aussie government might.

  • wm

    Facebook? is it traded on the stock exchange.,,i dont get wat u ppl are talkn about.

  • Personally what i feel is, i don’t agree with your thoughts. Facebook is not a search engine. BTW Google Interacts with the directly people who are seeking some thing needful while in facebook is a social community where you can interact with the people from the relevant industry. If you are comparing Facebook with Orkut than its fine and Facebook certainly got handsome response from people all over the world and becoming biggest social networking site, hence it hasn’t been successful to beat Myspace in US. Facebook needs to do lot better in near future.

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  • Jordan McCollum

    I’m pretty sure that was kind of my point exactly. . . .

  • Facebook is, as everyone notes, in its growth stage – and at a time where there’s all sorts of tools, services, etc. it can interface with, combine with, or be developed for. Not everyone uses it, will use it, wants to use it, or will continue to use it.

    Simply they’re not the same. I’m not going to do email on Facebook, I use Google Docs and Calendar (for privacy), etc. I use both, but I won’t give one up for the other.

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  • I believe Jordan covered this one rather well, they overlap but are not the same. People will still need a search engine be google or any other. I dont use social sites personally but i cant see them being the death of anything other that their competition.

  • GG

    At some point there will not exist unique visitors anymore(i mean, it will still exist, but it will be a minimal percentage).
    Google do have a social project. Checkout

  • Jordan, you’ve really nailed it. New media marketers have to pay attention to trends like this and be ready for the inevitable shift before it happens. Great thoughts on difference between social and search, too. Thanks for being ahead of the curve on this one!


  • @Michelle – re; new media marketers having to pay attention – now more than ever – it’s what Gen Y expects all marketers to do when it comes to the Gen Y voice being heard, and it’s what is required given the “turn on a dime” nature of the web. Waiting to see if a trend becomes some entrenched standard before moving on it nowadays means that by the time you jump into the fray, everyone else has moved to the next one.

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  • Alan, I love how you say web “turns on a dime.” Today, being ahead of the curve means being five seconds ahead of the next guy. And if you’re not ahead you’ve already fallen behind.

    But it’s times like these that make social networking that much more valuable. Because we can’t all be joining the dozens of new betas that roll out every week (although some of us TRY!). We have to look to our network to inform us of what’s working and what’s emerging at the micro scale before it tips. Or look to our network for new perspectives, like Jordan who’s looking at Facebook in a unique way.

    Drawing from the strength of a personal network is probably the most effective way to “turn on a dime” in our Web 3.0+ world.

    Or is it Web 4.0 already?


  • I think that it is not easy to kill a giant company such as google, because google is already at the stage of stable growth

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  • Google is a search engine. Facebook is social web 2.0 tool. !!! No comparison.

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