I have always looked forward to search and social media becoming more connected. The two realms are already integrated, but there is still tremendous progress that must be made before search results are a true and accurate representation of a combination of what your social network endorses and what ranks high for SEO.
Google's introduction of Search, Plus Your World in January was another step in the right direction, although it has been criticized for only including social results from its' own struggling social network, Google+.
But I recently read an article on Search Engine Land that made me completely rethink my whole outlook on this emerging trend. In "Social Search: Dead on Arrival? Or On Life Support?" Trond Lyngbø discusses how incorporating social signals into search results just introduces one more way to game the system.
In addition to "black-hat" SEO tactics such as buying backlinks, people can also buy Twitter followers, Facebook 'Likes," or Google +1′s. Without social signals incorporated into search results, these morally questionable activities had less of an effect on Internet users. But now we are bombarded with "personalized" suggestions of who to follow and what to 'Like.'
The article also prompted me to think about holding contests on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks. Have you ever entered a contest that required you to 'Like' a Facebook page, tweet about the contest, or follow a Twitter account hosting the contest?
In the past, doing this would increase the the visibility of the company on social networks. But as social media becomes more prominent in search, this could also result in that company's website/content/social profiles ranking higher in search results.
I think people are beginning to forget that following a Twitter account, liking a Facebook page, or giving +1 to a website is considered personally endorsing that content.