We are watching, patiently, as Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) tries and tries again to become a social network and introduce socially curated results. First it was the plus one button that they layered over all of their existing search results (the button that you've probably never clicked), then it was Google Plus which recently claimed 100 million "active" users on a platform that is struggling to differentiate from the 800 pound gorilla in the room.
Speaking of Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), their efforts to integrate traditional search through their partnership with Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Bing have arguably not added much value to their users. Especially when the search results rank last after the millions of corporately owned Facebook pages (not to mention other users) in the results window. The need is definitely there; it's not uncommon to see social posts like "Anyone know a good contractor?" or "I'm in Pittsburgh, where should I get drinks?" appearing in the news feed.
So, if Google can't yet socially curate their search results and Facebook can't figure out how to add value to these queries, where do we turn for better insights?
Amazon's (NASDAQ:AMZN) IMDB has been offering socially curated results in the film industry for over a decade claiming over 90 million monthly unique visitors. More recently, Expedia (NASDAQ:EXPE) had great success developing Trip Advisor (NASDAQ:TRIP) to curate the travel industry, spinning it off at the end of 2011. Yelp (NYSE:YELP), which went public in the spring seems to be holding it's own, also claiming over 90 million monthly unique visitors since it's acquisition of it's European competitor Qype last month.
Even with these major niches covered, Google reports that people search the terms "Best" and "Top" over 615 Million times each month, presumably seeking results based more on social opinion than complex algorithm.
Newcomer social curation platforms such as Pinterest and QrateSearch have yet to be proven game changers and the established niche platforms have faltered when trying to reinvent themselves as more comprehensive resources. As far as I can tell, it's anybody's game; whoever gets it right will probably take the whole cake.
By the way, does anyone know a good place to buy shoes in Florida?
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.