In the traditional sense, the shortest distance between content seekers and content was a search engine. And Google was that search engine.
However, with the immersion of things like mobile applications, RSS feeds, and digital television, are search engines still the most prominent connector of users to content? When I want to go shopping at for a new dress, I go to my Facebook account and see which Fan Pages I subscribe to have the cutest options. When I want to know what the weather will be next week, I go to the app on my iPhone.
When I want to find out what the latest world news headlines are, I often look at my Tweet Deck app and I see it in my tweet stream because I follow the sources I deem credible for news and they keep me updated regularly. But, that really only addresses topics for which I would’ve had a specific need. If there is a research-oriented question I need the answer to and I don’t know anything about it, I still rely on my search engine to connect me with the most relevant content on the web. This is something I think will remain true for at least the next year or so.
Facebook, Twitter, and other popular social networks have changed online marketing in the sense that they make it even easier for companies to get their brand in front of a captive audience by making it part of the “subscribers’” personalized individual routines. This kind of brand loyalty cannot be achieved for things that users don’t know they need yet, and that is why search engines will continue to play such and important role.