Facebook is many things to many people but there are two areas they can’t seem to get right, e-commerce and search. Now, e-commerce is a complicated thing, but search shouldn’t be. Surely Facebook has the brainpower and talent in their pocket to create the world’s greatest search engine, but if they did, would it matter?
Greenlight set out to discover the answer through their “Search & Social Survey (2011-2012).” Before we see the answer, you should know that they only surveyed 500 people. I’m not sure that’s enough to get a true picture, but it certainly is enough to get an indication of the way a group is moving.
When asked if they would use a Facebook search engine (meaning a full search like Google’s, not just an internal engine), 48% said “No” or “Probably Not.”
That means that the most Facebook could hope to capture would be 22% of searchers if they gobbled up all the “Definitelys,” “Probablys,” and half the “Don’t Knows.” That’s not so good, is it?
As for Google search, we already know of its awesome power but the Greenlight survey found that 23% of searchers have been clicking the Google+ button in the search results. That’s a data bonanza for Google. One thing, though, 28% of those surveyed said they didn’t know what +1 meant.
Greenlight’s Andreas Pouros comes to this conclusion:
“Brands and e-retailers need to be encouraging +1’s in Google, as it isn’t something that might be important in the future – it already is! It affects natural search rankings and will have an increasing impact over time across every Google product they utilise – AdWords, price comparison, Shopping, YouTube, etc., and Facebook could be a major search engine overnight. As such a brand’s performance on Facebook today (likes, visits, etc.) will likely have a decisive impact on how well exposed it is on that new search engine.”
In other words, don’t count Facebook or Google+ out just yet.
If you’re really into search, Greenlight has a nifty, free magazine you can download. This month they’re talking about foreign language searches and Facebook advertising. It’s a good read.