Reading Dave Kerpen’s book Likeable Social Media last night, I came upon the following passage describing the advantages of Facebook over Google (p. 7):
Like is the New Link: How Facebook is Reorganizing Google’s Web
You wake up one morning, and your back really hurts…. so you grab your computer, go to Google.com, and enter “back doctor” and your town’s name. You see a list of the 10 chiropractors who have paid Google to be listed there and dozens of others who come up in organic search results. But do you really want to trust your throbbing back to a complete stranger in an emergency? Then you think of another idea, and you head to Facebook and again search “back doctor.” At the top of the results is a doctor’s listing with a sidebar telling you that three of your friends like this doctor. Beneath the top listing is a chiropractor, next to which you see two friends who like him. You make a quick call, and you’re off to get your backache taken care of by a recommended doctor, a professional your friends like.
It’s fact check time. Here’s what actually comes up when I search for “back doctor” on Facebook as described, in order of appearance:
1. Social Back Doctor, a chiropractor’s office in San Francisco California. I live thousands of miles away in the state of Maine.
2. The World of Disney – WDW and Back Again – Doctor Disney, a page focused on Disney theme parks and memorabilia.
3. A Facebook group called Back Alley Doctors 2 that is closed to the public.
4. A Facebook page: I want David Tenant Back In Doctor Who!
5. Back to walk in doctor surgery, a Facebook group that is public but has no “About” description. Most of its members are from Pembrokeshire in Wales.
6. Another group: Bring back david tenant as Doctor Who…
7. An invitation to search for “back doctor” on the conventional search engine Bing, which finally generates some names of doctors in my area.
Kerpen adds a caveat:
This scenario and scenarios such as this aren’t happening en masse quite yet, but use of Facebook and the social graph (global mapping of people and how they’re connected) for search and commerce isn’t far off. Think about it — why would you possibly make a decision about a doctor, an attorney, a mechanic, or any important product or service for that matter, based on advertising or Google placement when you can make this decision based on the preference and recommendations of trusted friends? Facebook and social media have made it infinitely easier to do the latter. It’s nothing short of a game changer for marketers and businesses of all sizes.
But it’s far short of a game changer, because Facebook hasn’t made it easier to do the latter, because Facebook’s own search function doesn’t generate anything like what Kerpen says it does. It’s not just that these searches “aren’t happening en masse.” They’re not happening at all, because Facebook searches just don’t have the capability.
Of course, it’s quite possible to skip Facebook search and ask one’s Facebook friends directly for recommendations on a “back doctor,” a strategy different than what Kerpen describes. But chances are your friends won’t answer for a little while, leaving you on the floor or in your bed in serious back pain when you could have just … gone to a regular old search engine (or older-fashioned Yellow Pages) and gotten some accurate information right away.