Social networking is constantly changing and becoming more and more real-time. With applications like Foursquare and Facebook Places, you can even keep up with where your friends are. And with the real-time application of sites like Twitter, there’s no doubt that social networking websites will change the way searches are done on the internet.
Let’s start with Facebook. You have your real-life friends who have their own pages. Then you may have friends you’ve never met in person but you’ve only spoken with online. However, you can figure out which of those friends has the same tastes as you by checking out the things that they “like” on Facebook. So Friday rolls around and you want to check out a movie. Simply post, “Is Inception a good movie for Friday night viewing?” Within minutes you can have plenty of responses from people you know – and more importantly, people you trust.
Lots of people play online games, and most of those have forums where people can go and talk about the games they’re playing. But they usually have a “general topic” area where people can chat about anything, and this is another place you’ll see personalized recommendations. Want a cosmetic surgeon you can trust? Log on to your forum and ask people you know. Wouldn’t you consider this a little more valid than the page ranking from Google?
Then you have aggregator sites such as Digg.com and Reddit.com. As with other websites (like the forums mentioned above) the users develop a sense of community and can talk among themselves with people who have like interests. And again, these people come to trust the recommendations of one another, especially when it comes to advertising.
With sites like these you have a few choices: you can post a link to something you like so that you can share the site (and your recommendation) with people who are like-minded; you can read up on what everyone else’s recommendations are, along with the reasons for those recommendations; or you can simply ask. With the number of members these sites have you should have no problem in getting responses, and since these sites are essentially moderated by the community that visits them the crap gets called out and voted down to the bottom.
There is also a book called Socialnomics by Erik Qualman that talks quite a bit about this topic. David did an interview with Erik which you can check out here.
So where will Social Media and Facebook be in five or ten years? It’s really hard to say, but one thing you can bet on is that social media sites will play a crucial part in how we find our information.