New social search products from Google and Microsoft have the potential to tie our Facebook, Twitter and Google Profile data to search results and static web content. This means marketers’ valuable earned media — likes, tweets, mentions, retweets, posts and now +1’s — are much less likely to become a victim of a constantly updated social stream.

As social search develops, we’ll see more curation tools and less of a focus across social media platforms on what’s happening in the moment. This will increase the value of earned media gained from engaging with consumers.

A Constantly Updated Social Stream
Before social platforms and search were connected, there was a fleeting nature to earned media brands secured. One-way communication would appear in social streams like Facebook, and initially it may have gotten some reach. But the connection was more direct to the person liking or following the brand and did not impact their connections on that platform. The dynamic and near constant updating of social streams gave one-way communications from brands very little permanency.

Twitter was the perfect example. Winning a follower gave you the chance to have a conversation with them and possibly the occasional mention or retweet. You might have been able to grab some more followers through promoted tweets or by appearing on other peoples’ profiles, but much of Twitter’s potential still seemed very temporal. And +1’s were, for lack of a better word, kinda worthless.

For posts and tweets to be effective, social media marketers actually had to act almost like media buyers, dayparting their posts and tweets to capture the largest target audience. Hubspot poured extensive research into The Science of Timing so that we could maximize our reach on Twitter. Their research and that approach are still highly relevant and can help marketers.

Social + Search = the Rise of Earned Media
But now, with the dawn of social search, there is a new sense of depth added to the social layer that had not previously existed outside of novelties like PastPosts , “The Museum of Me” and the controversial “See Friendship” button. Our Likes and Tweets are stickier than they were before. They are more prominent, pertinent and permanent than ever before. And they’re more likely to make an impact if a brand is focused less on one-way communication and shifts to an engagement strategy.

It’s still early for me to say what the impact on the social and search world will be as social search becomes more mature. One thing for sure is that it is going to have a major impact on rankings and social businesses will claim the top spot in search.

In the meantime the lines are going to get blurry as more social folks write posts about search and more search folks writing posts about social — just like I’m doing right now.

:: By Alec Painter, Empower MediaMarketing, Digital Search Strategist

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