Why Search is a Waste of Time and Social Media allows us to Gain Time

“No matter how fast it seems, most search is a waste of time. In a way, we are using time (i.e., the time-based structure) to gain time.”

This quote is from a recent opinion blog in Wired Magazine online and it hits the target in clarifying what I have been trying to say to my clients for years now about the difference between Search and Social Media.

Yes they are two different animals. Why? because Social Media is Time Based and Search is not. The issue of time based vs non time based media is one dear to my heart as I studied Classical Animation. Animation is a time based media as is performance art, dance, music, new media, and some visual arts. “Usually time-based media are video, slide, film, audio or computer based and part of what it means to experience the art is to watch it unfold over time according to the temporal logic of the medium as it is played back.”

I know this to be true because of all the social media platforms, I have always loved Twitter the most. I knew that it’s “real time” communications and it’s dynamic quality were key factors in my love affair. David Gelernter goes on to state that this time based quality — which is inherent in New Media— creates new way of structuring time on the internet. This new structure re defines time on the internet, taking it from static websites and search results to the “streams” of data arising from your curated interests that constantly add into your feeds. As seen from the author’s sketch below we are at the intersection of the “now” and the “new”. We are now fully engaged and informed by Social Media.

“Instead of doing an endless series of separate searches, we tune the knobs on our stream-browser to continuously feed us just the information we need.”

Image

Unlike Search which brings up pages for you to review, having your social network set up to monitor people, topics and issues that are of interest, allows you or your business to always be in the moment and in the now of the conversation. This is the Zen state of being.

“But it’s about time: “Bring me what I want” is almost always more useful than “Let me rummage around and see what I can find.”

The other awesome point that he makes on this paradigm shift in communications is that this state allows for an abundance of creativity. Again for those of us who love to create content on the fly this is the best place to be as it allows for constant inspiration, insight and interpretation.  This is the state of artistic perception that McLuahn referred to in his definition of an artist as being one who “updates consciousness “. The Artist is one who lives in the moment and not in the past or the future.

“Yet it took us more than 20 years in computing to get here. The field has finally moved from conserving resources ingeniously to squandering them creatively.”

How true. I have been engage with new media studies for 20 years now and remember the MIT article that I zeroed and keep in my files up until today that speaks of the coming convergence of computers, video and telecommunications. Today we have the net, you Tube and smart phones. What matters most are not the devices themselves but the new real time communication channels of Social media that run across our devices via the internet and deliver great content to us. This in turn allow you to place that information, be it text, image or video, in a context that is relevant to your business – thereby adding value each and every day to your personal life or your business. Over time that value becomes enormous as your networks grow in influence and reach.

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The Hidden Ground of Social Media

IN this graph of web traffic on The Atlantic —If one adds up the direct traffic from social media networks with the hidden traffic from social sharing via email, IM and secure sites one sees clearly how social dominates search.

The web is build on hyper links and social media is about sharing those links.

The ongoing activity of sharing links is what creates engagement, especially if the content shared is relevant to the interests of your target audience. I have had more than a few discussions with clients about the importance of sharing links on twitter in which I had to defend my preference to do so over what they thought should just be only a line of text that reflects their position on this or that. I argue that without that link no one is going anywhere to dig deeper into their interest in the topic mentioned—not to your site or to your blog or to a landing page with an offer or to another site or blog which might in turn mention you as being the referrer — thereby increasing your social capital.

In a recent blog post by the senior editor of The Atlantic online magazine he describes how he discovered that in addition to the stats that show a clear link to a social network like Facebook or Twitter there is often over 50% of web traffic coming from what he calls DARK SOCIAL. This category, he goes on to argue, is what I call the “hidden ground” of social media, he calls it DARK social —- the fact that long before the rise of the big social networks people were sharing links with one another through various online communication tools which in turn, were driving traffic to websites. These links continue to be shared through email, secure website and instant messaging.

Surprisingly, Search is also included in this category, which, to me, clearly shows how social media dominates web traffic and enriches any business found on the web today. The argument the SEO remains a key factor in the success of your business offering pales in comparison to the 50% of known referrals from social media platforms along with the additional 15% of the hidden, dark social links.  Add those two number together and  a conservative estimate is that at least 65% of web traffic these days is driven by social media efforts. If you are not doing social already is it not time you invested in Social Media to further enrich your business?