Posted to Volacci's blog on March 11th, 2011

Social Media Showdown: This Week on the Social Interwebs (March 7-11)


This was a pretty eventful week for us at Volacci (DrupalCon and South by Southwest Interactive: AHH!), and the social media industry was not far behind. Quite a few of the big players announced new features to their sites. Too busy to read up on all of them? Well, here's a quick rundown to keep you up-to-date.

Google: Google had two pretty big announcements this week: A revamp of the Google Social Search and the launch of a site-blocking feature.

When Google initially launched social search in 2009, it displayed sites shared by your social contacts at the bottom of each results page. But starting this week, Google will be integrating the activities of your social media contacts directly into your search results. If you link your social accounts, like Twitter, to your Google profile, you will be able to see what your friends, and friends of friends, are sharing. So now, when you search for something using Google search, you might notice a search result with a notation from Twitter, for example, notifying you that this particular contact recently shared that link.

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Google displays the name of the contact as well as the picture he or she uses on that site. Other connections through sites like Blogger, YouTube and Flickr may also be displayed. According to Search Engine Land, social connections can affect the ranking of some of the results in your search query. Based on the strength of each social connection, some websites might be higher than normal in your search results if a strong social contact has shared that site. So a search for “The Fader Fort” by one person may return different results depending on what his or her friends have shared.

Google also unrolled a new feature this week: site-blocking. Google now gives you the option to block an entire domain from your search results. Google has added a link next to “Cached” for each result that reads “Block all results.” Clicking it will prompt a confirmation from you as well as a chance to undo it (you will be prompted to log in to your Google account if you had not already done so). Google will compile and save a list of sites that you have blocked. So the next time you are searching, if a blocked site would have appeared, Google will notify you that some search results have been blocked, and it will not show up in your results. Although Google is not currently including popularly blocked sites in their search algorithm, they did have this to say (from the Google Blog): “[W]hile we’re not currently using the domains people block as a signal in ranking, we’ll look at the data and see whether it would be useful as we continue to evaluate and improve our search results in the future.” We will definitely keep our ears perked to any new developments on this.

LinkedIn: Earlier this week, business networking site LinkedIn launched LinkedIn Today (recently rebranded as your LinkedIn feed) a social news service geared to the busy professional. LinkedIn Today aggregates a list of articles and links shared by your friends, contacts and connections as as well as news articles trending in your industry. The idea here is that because you trust your co-workers and connections, if they share an article, it is most likely something you should pay attention to. Users will be able to easily access popular news in their industry, news that is trending across many industries, and subscribe to industry-specific news feeds, depending on personal interests. For the professional in a time crunch, this can prove to be most vital.

Facebook: Watch out Netflix, there’s a new cowboy in town. Warner Brothers announced this week that it is teaming up with Facebook and will be providing “rentable” movies on the social networking site. The first movie to be released via Facebook, blockbuster hit The Dark Knight, will cost about 30 Facebook credits, or $3, and be available for 48 hours. The movies are viewed in-browser, and are not currently available for download. Warner Brothers says they will begin offering additional movies for download in the coming months. Will Facebook’s new movie watching capabilities pose a threat to online mega-movie rental service Netflix? Only time will tell, but we’re eager to see what happens.