BLOG: Social media seems to pull ahead of search engines
AKRON (Sept. 9, 2014) — Everything changes with time.
That's why you don't have the Pony Express or covered wagons in 2014. I can't imagine what society would look like without advances in technology.
Obsolete is the word that comes to mind when I think about the effect of technology. Most of us have seen the videos of the young kids reacting to rotary phones or a Walkman. I've heard so many people complain about how fast new technology replaces old and how often what used to be a prized possession is rendered useless.
It's hard to think of many things that haven't seen at least some change because of those advances. Can you? But that doesn't mean I'm not surprised sometimes. As a quick example, I used to love when we got a new Phone Book. The smell of the book's new ink and thin pages and the new design of the cover marked another year gone by. But putting business listings online made it unnecessary to keep those bulky things around unless you needed to see over the steering wheel.
The Internet is my favorite example of consistent change. That's probably a big reason I chose a job in which it's my responsibility to watch trends and make predictions and guide our online products.
I've noticed a trend in the past two years that I don't see stopping anytime soon. I believe social media sites have started to—and will continue to—replace search engines for quick reference.
According to several research studies, Americans spend more time on social sites that any other kind of Internet activity. According to Mashable, social accounts for 18 percent of time spent online. The average person spends 6.9 hours on social media sites per month.
More people are going to Facebook and other social sites to browse business pages to find a tire dealership, barter shop or a telephone number for a local restaurant. Twitter's hashtags are starting to be used as search terms to help people find what they're looking for. But sites like and including Pinterest are most at fault for this trend.
As social media continues to become more visual, it gets easier to find the results needed more quickly. It's easier to find a recipe or an ideal gift on Pinterest than it is on Google because there's no need to read to find results.
Another cause of this trend is convenience — the same factor that causes so many other changes in technology. People don't like to take the time to search for answers anymore. An online thesaurus is more likely to be used than a printed one. And the same is true of dictionaries. So, since the first stop for so many online users is whatever social site they prefer, they don't need to navigate away from the site.
I don't believe social media sites are nearly as robust as Google or Bing, but I think that will improve in the coming years.
The fun thing about technology is waiting to see what comes next and how predictions like mine shake out in the end.
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