As more of the social media world gets reflected into search results, PR pros and marketers might be thrilled, but Internet users seem to see it differently. Google’s intent to integrate results from their own Google+ social network, highlighting pictures and comments from users, into general search results pages, got US surfers worried, especially when it comes to their privacy. According to the results of a recent AYTM Market Research survey, only 15% of those asked said yes without any sign of worry.
Most concerns about integrating social content from online connection into Google search algorithms and returning personalized results that differ from user to user were linked to privacy. 39% of US Internet users said Google’s idea was one they liked, but they were concerned about their privacy, while the majority, 45.4% stated they’d much rather have everyone see the same results when googling.
Another concern is connected to relevance of search results after the Google + integration. While the Google search engine still has a big chunk of the market, Google+ is not yet big enough to actually reflect Internet users’ social media life. The survey found that only 19.3% of respondents actively use Google+, while 20.3% have an account that they never use. Another significant segment, 19.5%, said they don’t even know what Google+ is.
While Twitter was the most vocal in taking offense with Google’s decision not to include other social networks into their results, such as Facebook or Twitter, the concern is valid for all users. If they engage with friends, family and business connections on more than one social network and are interested in showing their opinions, comments and shares in the search results, having only Google+ included will provide a false image of what is interesting or important for their social media connections.
As eMarketer points out, regardless of what, how and when Google integrates into search results, social media is gaining ground and marketers will have to find a way to correlate and properly balance their search and social media marketing efforts. Privacy concerns will keep consumers reluctant, but as privacy is an ongoing problem no matter where you land on the Internet, when the issue is clear, they will still use search engines, especially the market leader Google, and still update their social media profiles.