We’ve all seen Google rise from its humble beginnings back in 1998 to the multi-million, multi-national corporation it is today, but in recent months have witnessed what could be the start of a slippery slope for the internet giant. From the news in November that Bing & Yahoo are taking increased market share to the update that Google Glass is soon to be no more (or is it…), it seems more and more people are turning away from Google as their no1 search engine.
According to a recent report published by Quartz, millions of Facebook users think that Facebook is the Internet, and they’re not even aware that accessing the social network means they are online! Facebook has seen phenomenal growth since its inception in 2004 and has changed many times in the 11 years since it started, but now with more options than ever before, could it be the new way of searching online?
The Quartz study, which was conducted across 1,000 people living in Indonesia and Nigeria, showed that around 2/3 of study participants believed that Facebook is the Internet. These users were largely in the age bracket 20-25, and more than half in both countries said that they never follow links that lead them outside of the network. This could lead to the assumption that anyone using the network will also be using the integrated tools available within the interface to search and communicate with companies directly, leaving outside engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing completely outside the picture. Given that Facebook also allow for filter options by location, workplace and education, this makes the chances of users finding what they want even easier – and without even leaving the website.
Given that Facebook are backers of internet.org, the initiative set up to bring the internet to those who don’t have it (which is currently 2/3 of the world’s population), it makes sense for the network to be easy to access and use. It doesn’t hurt either that the internet.org app allows users to access and work with Facebook and Facebook messenger for free (alongside other apps including Accuweather and Wikipedia), but whilst Google Search is included also as a free service, doing anything further than a basic search, such as clicking through to a webpage from the search results, will cost money and require a data plan.
So, given that Facebook are clearly moving with the times and ensuring users in all parts of the world can access their service, will they stand a chance of cutting the big search engines out altogether? Probably not – yet – but let’s not forget the other avenues available for searching for information and companies online, including Twitter, LinkedIn, Yell and Wikipedia. Imagine if all of these became the place to search, instead of using a search engine. Would you use them, or prefer to stick with what you know? Let us know in the comments…
Having started out in this industry with about as much marketing knowledge as a gnat, I have worked my way up from tea-making trainee to Head of Search thanks largely to the staunch support of our director, Stuart, and a lot of late nights, strategy sessions and training. At work I am extroverted, creative and always on the Internet, but behind closed doors I’m happiest with my family, my dogs and a good book (usually accompanied with a good cup of tea!).