It seems that social media sites have become a search engine of sorts. A recent report released by the Nielsen Group has search engines such as Google, wondering if their days maybe coming to an end. However search engines are still the favorite option when it comes to searching at 37 percent, but social media sites are climbing up the chart.
Jon Gibs, VP Media Analytics for Nielsen, said, “roughly 18 percent of users see [social media] as core to finding new information. While still a smaller percentage than those who use search engines or portals like Yahoo! or MSN, it is a significant figure. And as social media usage continues to increase, I can only expect this figure to grow.”
The report broke down users into three types of search groups. Searchers, who use search engines, portalists, who use search portals, such as Yahoo! and AOL, & socializers, who spend more than 10% of their time online socializing.
When asked about purchasing a new item and what online social media tools users find most helpful, both socializers and portalists used message boards on company websites and online stores seem to be the most trustworthy. Socializers are also using Twitter, Facebook and reading their friends blogs and opinions to find out whether a certain item is worth purchasing. Searchers however seem to trust Wikipedia the most, which can be a bit dangerous at times since anyone can edit the site and doesn’t necessarily offer reviews of the product.
This year with the use of social media sites increasing to all time record highs and continuously growing, will this number increase in the future and will more people be using social media for their searches? “Perhaps,” Gibbs says, “Regardless, if we don’t understand and address people feeling increasingly alienated by the amount of information on the Internet, and the need for a human guide, yes, your favorite social network (or something like it) will become the next great content gateway.”