Regardless of which search engine you use, chances are you refer to the actual action of searching as “googling” something. The word “Google” (used as a verb) has entered the lexicon of speech as a reference to searching for something online. Similarly, when “social networking” comes to mind, Facebook is generally going to be one of the first sites that you think of. In their respective fields, both Google and Facebook are leaders amongst their competition. As a result, it may be easy to assume that both companies are content: one company being the king of search, while the other is tops in the social realm. But Google and Facebook are locked in battle, seeking to stake out a claim in the other’s respective field, and neither seems willing to concede defeat at this point.
According to an article on mashable.com, the question of whether or not Facebook is becoming bigger than Google is being debated, particularly since Internet users are now tending to use social networking sites more often than they do search engines. In fact, in March of this year, Facebook actually overtook Google in terms of overall web traffic in the United States. Statistically speaking, this recent victory for Facebook was relatively inevitable. That is, given the more static growth of search engine use versus the ever (steeply) increasing use of social networking sites, a close on the traffic gap was bound to eventually happen. However, neither Internet giant seems content with their place on the Internet, which could spell increased exposure for law firms and other businesses that market themselves using these two Internet sources.
Facebook, in partnering with Microsoft’s Bing, has ventured into the world of search, currently ruled by Google. Likewise, Google, in hoping to secure some of Facebook’s users, has entered into the social networking realm with its own such service known as Google Buzz, connected to Google’s ever popular Gmail service. Interestingly enough, both companies are essentially in the same place when it comes to growth in their new ventures: Google Buzz has generated little if any buzz, and Facebook search is hardly a rival for the search behemoth known as Google. However, the fact that each company is attempting to secure market share from the other is an interesting notion, particularly when you take marketing businesses, such as law firms, into account.
At this point, marketing your brand on Google is still a must, and having a presence on Facebook is becoming more and more mainstay as the Internet, according to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, becomes a more social place where people want to interact with one another and share ideas. With Facebook and Google both venturing into each other’s respective fields, this simply adds two more places where companies would be wise to establish a presence: Google Buzz and Facebook Search/Bing. Now, those two places may not be terribly beneficial at the moment, but the Internet is an unpredictable place, and new developments are changing the face of search and social networking every day. Had you asked someone a few years ago whether or not Facebook would eventually experience more web traffic than Google, even a less tech savvy person would have probably said you were crazy. Similarly, had someone told you that Google would soon create its own social network, you may have laughed it off as nothing more than a fad that would hardly be able to challenge Facebook for web supremacy.
Ultimately, by keeping tabs on the latest trends in social networking and search, businesses such as law firms should be able to adapt their legal internet marketing strategies accordingly. Law firms are able to maintain a web presence not only on the Internet’s hot spots of today, but also on the sites of tomorrow that may eventually gain market share and supplant the current industry leaders.
Regardless of what happens, it’s important to be prepared for anything. As the battle for the Internet ensues, law firms would be wise to keep up on the latest trends, especially given the latest speculation presented in the article. That is, according to mashable.com, “…while social networks such as Facebook don’t pose an immediate threat to search engines for their core functionality – organizing the web and helping people find content – they do pose a large threat to search engines’ largest revenue source – advertising.” The topic of advertising revenue is a topic for another day though.