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It's very possible that I'm beating a dead horse on this one, but I'd rather beat a dead one than a live one.
If you hear me speak or read my writing, you'll know that I've been pushing this concept for a long time. This is the last plea I'll be making. It's the eleventh hour, so everything I post going forward on the subject will be tips for those who have decided to do it the right way. No more heartfelt pleas - either you get it or you don't.
Social media is embracing search as a primary missing piece to the time-domination puzzle. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest - they all realize that being integrated properly with external search while allowing for robust search features of their own is the key to taking the tremendous amounts of personal data they have on us all and turning it into something useful for both users as well as the all-important advertisers and data-collection services.
Google and Bing are acutely aware that they have all of the outside data that they need. The only part that's been missing to some degree for a decade has been true human sentiment on a personal level that is not tainted by artificial inflation techniques. Finding that balance between understanding what the people really feel versus being manipulated by blackhat techniques is the last victory they need to make their search engines nearly perfect which is why both have been trying for three years now to properly integrate social signals into their search ranking algorithms.
Content is the binding force in all of this. It's very similar to the food that a restaurant serves. From a search perspective, understanding the way that food at a restaurant makes them feel is a key to getting a true understanding of consumer sentiment surrounding that restaurant. In other words, the things that people are saying about the food helps the search engines know which restaurants to recommend. From a social perspective, they need to be able to gather all of the data about the restaurants themselves. They know individual sentiment. Now they need to combine it to form conclusions.
This is the bare essence of the merging of search and social around the hub of content. Businesses that are creating high-quality content and using the right strategies to get this content out there from a search and social perspective are the ones that will win in the long run. Before anyone starts saying that they need strategies that work today, it should be noted that marketing is often like driving a car (warning - it's another analogy so brace yourself). You don't look at the road directly in front of the bumper on your vehicle to steer the car. You look down the road. You see what's happening beside you, behind you, and in the distance in front of you. When you're barreling down the highway and you see brake lights ahead, you put your foot on your own brakes.
The same holds true for internet marketing. Knowing that search and social are hovering around content as the key to both disciplines and uniting all three around a unified strategy is what we're seeing on the highway ahead. As a result, we're able to drive the road that we're on more efficiently, at a higher rate of speed, and with the knowledge that we're going to be able to make turns or hit the brakes before getting into an accident. This is the strategy that helped us be preparing for the Google Penguin update years before it was ever introduced. It is the strategy that helped us avoid the pitfalls of artificial page like inflation on Facebook well before it became more of a detriment than a benefit.
This is what's coming. Are your eyes on the road ahead or are you peering over your bumper to look at the road conditions right now?
Here's an infographic by Marketing Adept that gives a decent breakdown of what's happening now. Knowing that can help you look to the future.