"Garbage in, Garbage Out" is an old saw used in the last century that implied inputting faulty data would only produce a output of flawed results. Google countered this paradigm in the early days when developing one its signals for its search algorithm - namely link building - and those that chose to game the system by amassing large number of links to achieve higher search rankings.
"Black Hat" Web builders were infamous in building "link farms" to gain a foothold on Google's first page - until Google altered its algos to prevent its practice. Today, the same could be said for social media followers. Where Google's PageRank depends on not just the the number of links, but the quality of those links, Google's social search is now regarding the quality of one's followers in the same manner.
When Google first struck its deals with Twitter and Facebook to gain access to real-time tweets and Facebook status updates, they weren't ready to rank these Twitter and Facebook authors nor their followers based on reputation or quality of content. Google's search guru Matt Cutts said they haven't used "quality" nor "reputation" as signals until this December.
This YouTube video will provide you with some insight as to how Google is focusing on this important aspect of social search, today.
It appears that Cutts' remarks indicate that while Google is beginning the process of ranking "quality" and "reputation," there is still a lot of work that needs to be done for it to become a fully fleshed out "ready for prime time" feature.
Important to note for Facebook users, that while many are setting their privacy settings to only allow updates to be reviewed by followers, this will prohibit Google from ranking those updates. So for those that want to earn a "reputation" of repute as far as Google is concerned, users will need to rethink whether or not they should more open with their settings.
However, if one was inclined to believe that Facebook is in the process of building their own universal search engine, it may be more important for users to be searchable by Facebook versus Google. In Facebucks & Dumb F*cks, a graphic novel about Facebook, this topic is touched on by Z-Man (aka Mark Zuckerberg) as he assumes that he is Web's the heir-apparent leader for the next decade - and the cause for Gobble's downfall. (aka Google).
Page from Facebucks & Dumb F*cks graphic novel
So since it is not to their advantage, Facebook has no reason to develop a working relationship to help Google out in this regard. And with Google lacking an ability to tap into Facebook's users social media updates, they lose out on being able to blend in the content of the social network that has amassed the greatest number of followers globally.
This is a cautionary tale, however, whether or not Google gains the access they require to amend its algorithm comprehensively. If a social networker wants to build a "quality reputation," it is wise to start thinking about the types of followers he or she would like to be associated with.
Like acquiring links for "links sake" might not improve one's organic rankings on Google, now you have to also think about the followers you attract, and that they are not just bots or software programs that lack any kind of value in social networking space. Traffic to your Twitter and Facebook accounts will begin to improve markedly once you weed out some of those undesirable followers, and as social search starts weighing in with general search on the Web.
For other blogs on Social Media Search, check out some of my previous posts: