What the Google vs Facebook War Means to Doctors and Physicians
“Search” is where the money is. Google has reigned supreme for a long time now, and regardless of innumerable attempts to dislodge it from its top position, still continues to call the shots. The most successful internet company had little to celebrate from the rapidly raising Facebook, a company that some analysts claim it is most potent competitor.
Mark Zukerberg, CEO, Facebook unveiled yesterday the most talked about search feature “Graph Search.” Facebook will leverage data from its huge user base of 1 billion people worldwide. Users will now be able to search within their own social graph for specifics. This new feature starts today in beta form and will initially focus on four key areas: places, people, photos, and interests and later on become a full fledged search engine, albeit with a difference.
How will Graph Search help Doctors and Physicians?
Graph Search users will have the ability to tailor their searches, such as specifying a product or service their friends like or recommend. For example user John Smith might type “Dentists in Buffalo, NY”, and a list of his friends recommended dentists from Facebook’s database will show up. The reverse is also possible, for example Dr. Thomas Stewart, Podiatrist, may type “People interested in diabetic foot care in Buffalo, NY”, and list of people who are friends, fans, followers, or friends of friends of Dr. Stewart will show up. The doctor can then approach these people and offer his expert services or showcase his healthcare facility.
How is Graph Search different from Google Search results?
When users type search terms in the Google search box, the results displayed depend on cold Google algorithms. Doctors and physicians that are well linked or healthcare facility websites that are well linked and optimized usually show up with top rankings. Unlike Google, Graph Search will display information that matters to you, but one which is pulled from within the context of your social life. Therefore you are likely to see a list of doctors and physicians your friends recommend and like. This information is far more trustworthy than plain Google results. The results displayed by Graph Search will not be ones that are popular on the internet, but ones that your friends find trustworthy. Anything that can’t be found from within your social network will be outsourced to Bing.
Where does this mean for Google?
Well, Google is under no immediate threat. Mr. Zuckerberg does not expect people to start flocking to Facebook to do web search. Second, Facebook is not indexing the web; instead it will only index shared content on Facebook. Indexing every bit of data on Facebook is going to take a long time, plus Facebook has to deal with the tricky issue of user privacy before they even think of doing such a thing. Google will continue to occupy the top spot as a search engine, and as of now Facebook does not pose any direct challenge to Google. However, how this war will play out will be interesting to watch.
All said and done, users will have to choose between huge data, much of it authoritative on Google, and weaker recommendations from friends on Facebook.
What does all this mean for the medical profession?
Well, healthcare is one of the few professions that will benefit immensely from this ongoing war between the two giants. Doctors and physicians can now leverage the power of social media as well as use search engine optimization to reach people they were hitherto unable to reach. Traditional search and social media have unique and inherent advantages. Social media search like Facebook’s Graph Search gives doctors and physicians an opportunity to personalize and humanize their online presence, while Google search or web search will give them an opportunity to sound authoritative and showcase their skills in their area of expertise.
The question is whether you, as a medical professional, are well placed to leverage the power of both, Graph Search and Google. If not, you are at a distinct disadvantage vis-à-vis your peers and other competitors that have a clear strategy to reap the fruits of this new development.
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Although Facebook’s search is truly groundbreaking, it will be too early to write off Google. Watch this space as we continue to track the exciting developments in this ever changing theater of war.
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