Is Google Getting Lost in the Traffic?

Who’s more valuable? Someone who searches for something useful or a user who clicks on a link recommended by a friend?

The reason I ask is because I read an article on Adage about Facebook and Twitter sending more traffic to some sites than Google.  GASP!

According to the article (which sites numerous others), web search firm Hitwise found that in one instance (post-Oscar mayhem), Perez Hilton’s site got a record 13.9 million hits and the traffic was referred by Facebook.   In fact for Hilton’s site, it seems Facebook has increased over the last few months as the top referrer.

So what part of poking your crush and sharing your vacation photos includes referring enormous amounts of traffic? Content sharing is an increasingly important activity on Facebook, and it will only grow with the company’s coming integration of real-time streams of friends’ activity. Already, Facebook says its users share 28 million pieces of content (including links, blog posts and photos) per month, with more than 18 million users updating their status messages at least once each day.

We know that word-of-mouth anything works.  We trust sites that speak to us from our peers, from authentic experiences. Social connections drive viewerships. Social references replacing search.  Call it what you want.  We’ve always known this, haven’t we?  I think Alec McNayr is onto something:

The names Google and Facebook aren’t important here. What is important is that Web 2.0 proliferation has resulted in the new dynamic of social references replacing search for the starting point of most web browsing sessions.

Iwidget’s Peter Yared also has his take on this issue:  

Smart social media campaigns are a much more efficient use of marketing dollars since it takes the potential that obviously exists in a friend’s recommendation and turns it into something lively and unique — breaking the mold of boring search ads and easy-to-ignore banners and entering the world of social syndication.

Social syndication.  Has a ring to it, don’t you think?