Hitwise, which measures web traffic, found a jump in referrals from Facebook to Apple after the Beatles catalogue of music became available on iTunes. SearchEngineLand uses that to compare the impact of Social Media with that of Search Engines. In a post entitled “How Did The Beatles Sell 2 Million Songs On iTunes? Mostly Facebook (Not Search)” they say…
Billboard magazine reports that The Beatles sold more than two million individual songs worldwide and in excess of 450,000 albums in its first week on Apple’s iTunes Music Store. (The Beatles’ catalog was added to iTunes on November 16th.)
According to Experian Hitwise, it was social media — not search — that drove a lot of the online interest and, more importantly, the online traffic surrounding The Beatles addition to iTunes. Consider this stat: On November 16, the first day Beatles songs were available on iTunes, 26% of UK traffic to Apple.com came from social media, about double the amount that came from search.
I don’t think the comparison is valid and I’ll explain why but before I do I want to explain why I think this comparison is a dangerous one. People are framing this as a question of “Google vs Facebook” and then extrapolating dire consequences for Google based on that comparison. Look at the language used by Read Write Web…
Before people ring the death knell for search, it is worth noting that search was up - 30% in the U.K. and 19% in the U.S. - for the Fab Four.
I wouldn’t even consider “ringing the death knell for search” based on this and here’s why...
They’re comparing apples to oranges (no pun intended). Social Media is an active medium which means it informs you of things you didn’t already know. Search is a passive medium which means you go to it when you want to know more about something you already know. With that distinction in mind let’s look at the situation surrounding this news item.
The news item was: Beatles Music is now available on iTunes
People could have heard this news in one of four ways…
* Heard the news in person from an acquaintance
* Heard the news from Traditional media (TV, Newspaper, etc…)
* Heard the news from New Media (Blog, Web based news, etc…)
* Heard the news from Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, etc…)
In at least two of the above scenarios the user would not be given a link to Apple. So the question is whether they’d need a search engine to find the Beatles Music without a direct link to it.
That’s the invalidating point here: Why would someone need to search for information if they’re given “Beatles” and “iTunes” in the content of the news item?
The answer in most cases is “they wouldn’t” and that’s why I don’t see much merit in this comparison. If anything the comparison is between Social Media and other forms of active notification but we can’t even measure that properly because we don’t know how many people went straight to Apple’s website or simply opened their copy of iTunes and searched.
So this information proves next to nothing valuable as far as insight and certainly doesn’t lend itself to a comparison of Facebook and Google.