Discovery. It is what the internet is all about. We enter the world of the internet and find ourselves veering down paths we never knew we wanted to explore and finding things we never knew we needed or wanted until they were discovered.

But we are much more likely to click on a link that has a friend’s name associated with it:

“Ninety percent or consumers surveyed noted that they trust recommendations from people they know, while 70 percent trusted consumer opinions posted online.”

“According to a recent Social Shopping study from the e-tailing group, customer reviews are the No. 1 social tool in the buying process. Ninety percent or more of consumers want objective information from people like them about the products and services they are interesting in purchasing.”

And search engines like Google and Bing know this and have started integrated social search results with our friends’ names attached to those results in an effort to make the results more relevant to each of us. Google is integrated its Google+ member information and posts into searches by people in the searchers’ circles. Bing has added Facebook results to the search results it presents when the search is signed in with Facebook. And there is rumor of Facebook working on its very own search engine.

This gives marketers yet another reason to build a presence and work to continuously improve and increase engagement on social media networks. An active social presence can work to build loyalty with consumers, improve organic brand search results and now help sell products and services when fans engage and those engagement show in the search results by friends of fans for relevant queries.

How can brands take advantage of this new trend for annotating search results with socially-relevant references?

  • Establish a presence on sites/platforms where consumers express and share their interests (Facebook, Pinterest, Foursquare, Twitter, etc.).
  • Don’t commit to just one service and don’t post the same information on all services; recognize that users are looking for different information and experiences from each site.
  • Learn how conversation happens on each site/platform and conform to that style.
  • Establish a content strategy that drives engagement from, with and among fans.
  • Dig in to learn and understand the data that comes from each site and market to those trends.
  • Measure and track everything.