One of the trends collegue Steve Rubel and I identified for 2011 was the re-emergence of Google through furthering the integration of social into their search ecosystem. Google's latest iteration of social search now further integrates platforms such as Quora, Flickr and Twitter more aggressively and points to a new reality for businesses in how they approach social integration themselves. In short, ignore at your own peril. So what's a business to do as search increasingly integrates signals from multiple ecosystems? Here's a few tips:
Refine Your Social Intelligence Infrastructure
It's now more important than ever to formalize and scale the ways your organization monitors and listens to conversations which occur across the entire digital landscape. Ad hoc solutions without putting in the right people, process and platform(s) in place will only give you samples of what's being said about you, or the topics you care about and where. You have to have the right intelligence in place before you can act upon it.
Evolve Approach Beyond Traditional Optimization
Increased social integration emphasizes further the need to go beyond traditional search tactics such as keywords. As Google continues to tweak its algorithm to be more effective in indexing social systems—content which is produced and shared within these systems become increasingly important. A content strategy which focuses specifically on this new dynamic will be needed.
Mobilize Your Ambassador Ecosystem
The typical ambassador ecosystem for a mid to large scale business likely consists of hundreds of employees, customers and partners which can potentially be harnessed for the benefit of the organization. Participation in thought leadership in places Google indexes such as Quora and even Slideshare can influence what shows up on search results. Marketing partners should be re-calibrated from focusing primarily on paid media efforts to being active in the overlaps between paid, earned and social media while tapping your companies most active advocates. Your organization has a workforce of employees active on social networks, yet most organizations remain content to have their employees "locked down" vs.being empowered for the benefit of the business.
While Google looks to index any social system they can, Bing continues to integrate Facebook in how they display search results. The larger impact which both signify is that search will eventually fuse with social platforms in ways that alter how your business is found. Get ready for it.