Many brands have become nouns, verbs and common terms. Have you withdrawn money from a non-Lloyds Bank cashpoint? If you have, you haven't in fact used a cashpoint, you've used an automated teller machine (ATM) because Cashpoint® is a branded term and registered trademark of Lloyds Bank Plc. The same applies if you've rented a Jet Ski on holiday. Unless it's made by Kawasaki Heavy Industries, you'll have actually been taking a stand-up personal watercraft out for a spin... catchy! It'll be more than you probably realise but many famous brands have genericized (the process in which a trademark or proprietary name becomes widely perceived as a common noun or verb describing the type of product or service, often losing brand recognition as a consequence). If you don't believe me, just Google it!
Back to the search chat! Something is shifting out there in the digital space that has been our go-to-source for finding answers. Traditional search engines aren't going anywhere but there's a fundamental, widely- predicted, change in approach on the digital horizon. There's a new search engine coming to town and it's called social media.
Over the coming years, social media channels are poised to become the new search engines, offering real insights from real people that may challenge the dominance of the long-established search engine crowd. With features like integrated search results and robust search tools, platforms like TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram are infiltrating Google's territory. So, what could that mean for professionals on LinkedIn? Think Google with career perks and the gift of opportunities!
Where Real People Provide Authentic Insights
As users seek authentic insights, traditional search results may not always suffice and this is an area where social media shines. Social media platforms have become a reliable source of advice and information from actual humans (and a according to various reports and surveys, a place for Gen Z to research their shopping decisions). Regardless of which generation, it is clear that users are turning to social media to connect with peers, learn from their experiences, and to make informed decisions.
The Evolution of Social SEO
I can't talk about search engines without touching on SEO. Social SEO is not my area of expertise (and it frazzles my head a bit!) so I'm sharing as I learn with this bit.
After a bit of Ecosia'ing and Googling, I discovered that social SEO emerged as an important trend in 2022. I must've missed that trend, probably while I was enjoying being offline and outside with friends after those dreadful pandemic lockdown years. In 2022 social SEO focused on keyword optimisation in captions and profiles but social strategies have since evolved to cater to search intent while providing entertaining and educational content, often referred to as edutainment.
Evergreen content on social media now has the potential to appear in search results indefinitely, with greater engagement continuing to boost its visibility. What is clear to me is that social search functions are constantly improving, making it clear that this trend of using social media as a search engine will continue well into the future.
In my Social SEO edu-wander, I stumbled across content where Hootsuite was asking: Can we use what we know about optimising content for Google to reverse-engineer social SEO success? And if you're interested to know the answer, you can see the breakdown of their experiment here: Do Traditional SEO Tactics Work on Social Media?
I know it needed to be there, but I'm not-so-secretly glad that the social SEO paragraph is written and I can get back to social platforms!
Social Platforms vs. Traditional Search Engines
Expanding search functions on social media platforms are posing a significant threat to traditional search engines. TikTok, for example, has integrated Google search results into its in-app results, offering a seamless user experience. And with the rise of social search comes the rise in expectations from businesses and professionals to be proactive in answering their audience's questions on these platforms. Failing to do so will increase the risk of losing potential customers to competitors who are actively engaging with their audience on social media.
A Search Engine Called LinkedIn
While social platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook have made significant strides in integrating search functions, LinkedIn has not lagged far behind and what many people don’t know, is that LinkedIn is already a powerful search engine. Since 2018, LinkedIn has allowed users to search for relevant content and contributions using keywords, a feature still unknown to many members. Combined with Boolean search this functionality offers professionals an efficient way to discover relevant content and tap into valuable insights shared on the platform.
Adapt Your Strategy Accordingly
Given the rising trend of searching for relevant content on social platforms and with social media channels emerging as the next big thing when it comes to new search engines, traditional search engines face a formidable challenge as platforms like TikTok, Instagram, X and LinkedIn continue to improve and expand their search functions.
As professionals on LinkedIn, it is always beneficial to be aware of the changing trends so you can adapt your strategies accordingly. Not only can you tap into a vast pool of knowledge, you can also stay ahead of the curve in delivering valuable content to your own network.
If you are sharing content on LinkedIn, keep yourself in the loop on what the 'professional' algorithm changes mean for you and your personal brand in 2024 and if you think someone would find this useful to know, please share this article with them.
Author: Sallee Poinsette-Nash, one of the UK's leading people-brand strategists and founder of Brandable & Co. an award-winning people-brand consultancy specialising in personal brand strategy that closes the gap between professional brands and commercial success. Sallee is also the founder of Speakable & Co. where human expertise and AI technology come together to support people, companies, conferences and global events with public speaking.