Social Search Session from SXSW

Here are my raw notes from the Social Search: A Little Help From My Friends session at SXSW. Like I said, these are raw notes, so there are bound to be some typos / mistakes. Also keep in mind these are their ideas and content, not mine.

Brynn Evans (digital anthropologist, design researcher, and user experience consultant):

No longer thinking about search as a question inside of a box. What happens when you have a question, we don’t rely just on Google. How can our friends help provide advice or from our social circle. You need to think of search as a process over time – it’s not a single search, it’s usually a series of searches combining friends and Google at various stages.

3 types of social search:

  • collective: gathering trends from a crowd – many activities from many people.
  • friend-filtered: Looking at results from your friends (like Google social search)
  • collaborative: working with someone to answer a question or ask a friend a question (like Aardvark)

2 main social strategies:

  • Ask the network – some people want to start with friends and get help / guidance before doing a Google search
  • Embark alone – see what they can gather from Google and then turn to friends for help if you can’t figure it out alone.

Max Ventilla (Aardvark – now at Google):

Web search is great for objective questions, but not for subjective questions. When there is no “right” answer, your social circle can help you find an answer that is appropriate for you (book recommendations, etc.)

Friends can answer subjective questions, but ..
* unreliable
* hard to keep up
* social cost

Intimacy facilitates trust.
Speakers want to know who they are addressing.

Ash Rust (OneRiot):

Realtime search to help people find out what is happening right now.

Scott Prindle (Crispen Porter – advertising company):

Social search in the digital marketing space (like OneRiot model). Give customers something good to talk about, they will talk. And that conversation becomes content for social search, helping to drive additional traffic and conversation.

Enable customers to find the experts within your organization (like Aardvark model).

If there is one factual answer to a question, this isn’t where social search excels. 20-30% of questions can be dealt with via social search. Will it ever overtake Google? No. Social search is useful for certain types of questions, but not all. For 40% of queries, we get good information from Google, but it leaves you wanting a little bit more. Social search can provide this additional context. We need better ways to personalize your searches based on information from your social circle and include it in your Google / Yahoo results.

Who is an authority? What is relevant? How do you index all of it? These are tough questions that still need to be solved for social search.

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