I was reading Fred Wilsons blog the other day where he argued that twitter and facebook traffic would surpass google referral traffic in the future. The interesting part of that discussion is for me less about which of these companies that will win or loose out. The core question is really about how people will discover stuff in the future. How will people find stuff online.
The very first method of discovery was editorial. The web only had a few websites where people went to find ‘good stuff’. The web have since been very much centered about using search as its primary discovery methods. The web has essentially been spinning around Mother Google making business that was well disposed for this kind of discovery the first to prosper. We are now moving towards a time where new social discovery tools are being created. The initial wave of these tools were around one to one sharing, (e.g. send this to a friend) but are now becoming more sophisticated (e.g behavior generated content). Together the three ways of discovery matches the ones we have offline:

– editorial. you are browsing around in a magazine or a site and someone suggest you to read/try/do something
– search. you are looking for something in a shop or you ask google to find it for you
– social. you get a ping from a friend, a social trigger, that prompts you to do something.

These three categories can be divided into sub categories. For example, editorial can be either be done by a blogger or by a computer (like amazon) – but at the end of the day its a form of expert who recommend something. So while social discovery online is growing, its hardly a new concept and we can probably expect the split between them to follow the offline world – which is probably editorial 30%, search 35%, social 35%.

The new questions then become – how will the online tools look like that make people explore ‘stuff they didnt know they were looking for’ and what new formats will be effective in influencing those three discovery methods. In a video world, social discovery mean new content discovery methods like; personalized subscriptions, facebook connected notifications, auto twitter viewing reports, co-watching in realtime (join what your friends are watching), content exploration via friends viewing data visulazations – but all that is probably a worth a post of its own 🙂