Is Facebook the New Google?

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According to Parse.ly data, Facebook is now the top referral source to news websites – surpassing long-time referral giant Google. In July, 43 percent of the traffic to the media sites surveyed came Is Facebook the New Google from Facebook clicks, while just 38 percent came from Google. While just one genre of websites was surveyed (news media), the study is very telling of a bigger trend: people are gathering more and more information through social media.

This shift is important for all businesses to acknowledge and understand, especially small ones who have always had a distinct marketing advantage through social media. Some important points to note:

Word-of-mouth is alive and well. Google’s algorithm has always been based on sites having more credence when they are clicked on more, or referenced through linking on another site. This is word-of-mouth referring in an abstract way – being told what is the most relevant to you based on the largest group of people or third-party sites.

Facebook is different because it is inherently more personal. The links that you see and click on are from people you actually know. When someone posts a link or product on Facebook, it is an instant recommendation (and one that you can click on immediately).

For things like news stories, it is a fast way to spread information that bypasses the typical Google algorithm wait. Small businesses that may not normally make the cut when it comes to that coveted first page of Google search may get a lot of attention from a single Facebook post from a fan.

Search results alone aren’t enough. Google does a good job showing searchers what a link is really all about before sending them to it, but it does leave some things lacking. The biggest of these? A personal connection between that site and the searcher.

Facebook has an advantage because when a person sees a link posted from a friend, there is generally some commentary that explains why the reader should care. Even business pages posting their own links, or sponsoring them, can add just a little bit of content to make those posts more engaging, and clickable.

People value convenience. I can’t believe that I’m even implying that typing in a search term and waiting a millisecond for results is in any way an inconvenience, but with the instant gratification of technology, it makes sense. It is why people are willing to give up some privacy in order to receive the best deals, or customized health data.

People are on Facebook anyway – from computers at work, to tablets at home, to smartphones everywhere else. Having links right in the feed that are relevant actually IS more convenient than looking something up on a totally different site.

Google and Facebook provide different services, of course, but when it comes to instantaneously being referred to articles, products or businesses that impact your real life, Facebook does have an advantage. Small businesses need to be sure that they have a strong presence that is both brand centric and convenient.

What advantages for businesses do you think Facebook has over Google?

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