A lot of blogs weighed in earlier this year on Hitwise’s announcement that the phrase “Facebook” was the most searched for term in Google in 2010 (SearchEngineWatch, Pro Media Blog, eMarketer, and Digital Journal to name a few beyond the obvious Technorati, Mashable, cNET, Washington Post, etc.). Most posts reported the news and many weighed in on the ongoing saga of the Two Towers – Google and Facebook.

What few posts commented on, however, was the increasingly inseparable nature of search and social media in our online experience. We’ve known since the advent of social media that inner-site search engines (the search engine within Facebook.com or YouTube.com for instance) were critical components of the online search experience. Data like that provided by Hitwise, however, shows that the love affair goes both ways. We also use general web search engines to find social media (even when we already know exactly what we’re looking for).

Take a look at the insights below, borrowed from Hitwise’s announcement in December. The two things that should become immediately clear are:

  1. Social media is the most popular thing people are searching for online.
  2. Search engines define our experience and pathway online – even when we’re just going back to the same website we visit every single day.

As communicators, we have to ask ourselves – are we agreeing with this simple insight in principle, but failing to act on it in practice?  Do we truly have an integrated approach to maximizing the search journey and leveraging social media in search?  Or when we think of search, does somebody else handle that?

Check out the data from Hitwise:

Paul Dyer Hitwise Google Facebook

Also, the quick summary of Stats from Pro Media Blog:

* Facebook accounted for 3.48 % of all searches in the US among the top 50 terms (207% increase from 2009)
* YouTube accounted for 1.12% of all searches (106% increase from 2009)
* Craigslist accounted for 0.62%
* New among Top 50 Search Terms in 2010 were Netflix, Verizon Wireless, ESPN, Chase, Pogo, Tagged, Wells Fargo, Yellow Pages, PopTropica, Games and Hulu