Search 224, Social Media 0 – My Last Search Insider Column

A lot has happened since I first started writing the Search Insider. There were two US presidential elections. I met and married my wife. Twitter was invented, as was Sprinkles Cupcakes. It's been a pretty good stretch. Here's the last in the series before a new one begins.

Search 224, Social Media 0

It's time for a short trip five years in
the making. This is the 224th Search Insider I've written for
MediaPost, and most likely my last. As of next week, I'll be switching
over to the Social Media Insider.

My first Search Insider
was published Friday, July 2, 2004, which was mercifully right before
the holiday weekend so presumably no one read it. It was about Web
design, a topic I'm not sure I've ever known anything about, but I had
to start somewhere. Over the years, along with analyzing updates from
the major search engines, parsing research, and covering events, I've
tried to dig up lesser known examples of how consumers search to
illustrate the evolution of the field.

The process required
taking a broad view of search, and much of that focus turned to social
media. It's only fitting that I visited MediaPost.com's search engine
to review all of the Search Insider columns I've written to dig up just
how much social media came up in my search coverage. Here's a snapshot:

  • MySpace: 24 mentions, the first of which was a fleeting reference in a
    November 2005 column about Google Base. That was followed by six
    mentions in 2006, nine in 2007, eight in 2008, and none in 2009.
  • Facebook: 27 mentions, the first one in January 2007 describing photo search and tagging on the social network. There were a total of 11 in 2007, 13 in 2008, and three so far in 2009. 
  • Twitter: 17 mentions, starting in October 2007 with a dedicated column about listening to tweets. Following that one piece in 2007, there were 10 in 2008 and six already this year.
  • Social media (exact phrase): 28 mentions, starting in October 2006, nearly a year and a half after the first MySpace mention.

    • Social media optimization: four mentions between November 2006 and April 2008.

    So
    yes, social media has come up quite a bit, but it's all relative. I
    mentioned Microsoft or MSN in 67 columns (30% of the first 223), Yahoo
    in 118 (53%), and Google in 188 (84%). If I was biased in my coverage,
    at least it was proportionate with market share.

    In wrapping
    this, I feel that hubristic need to share some words of wisdom with
    future Search Insider columnists, words that perhaps other writers will
    also appreciate. If you're in this group, you may wonder how to get a
    lot of responses to a column. The easiest way is to be a jerk and say
    things so devoid of substance that you can guarantee dozens of people
    will comment on what an idiot you are. Even more people will probably
    say they agree with you, which will undoubtedly feel validating.

    While
    I may not have avoided idiocy, I've yet to try to be a jerk here.
    Instead, I'll share the three columns that triggered the biggest reader
    reaction, based on anecdotal experience that includes the volume of
    email responses:

  • None of those are
    about search engine marketing or search engine optimization. Two of
    them are personal anecdotes, and the other was admittedly a bit of a
    stretch for Search Insider coverage. Meanwhile, some of the columns
    that I wrote that I thought were so smart they'd lead to Wall Street Journal stories, book deals, and a motion picture starring Hayden Christensen as me
    and Kal Penn as Sergey Brin — well, hardly anyone ever responded to
    those. I'm still proud of those columns, but the silence can be
    humbling.

    I've made a few mistakes in the process and had a
    few off weeks, but I've lasted through 224 columns in this series by
    following one simple rule: respect readers' time and intelligence. I'm
    grateful for everyone who has perused each edition; I read quite a bit
    too and appreciate being a part of your reading list.

    If the
    subject interests you at all, I hope you'll look for my contributions
    to the Social Media Insider starting next Tuesday where I'll join the
    inimitable Cathy Taylor. What would have seemed like a long journey in
    2004 now feels like a logical progression. And after covering Google in
    188 columns, expect a regular examination of where search and social
    media intersect. I'll have plenty to cover there, which should keep me
    busy until Kal Penn returns to acting — and returns my calls.

  • Search insider casting 2

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