Since Google added Search Plus Your World to their search engine, social search has been an increasingly more popular subject. It's nothing new, in fact not too long ago and way before Google+ came about, Twitter was implemented into Google Search, social search 1.0 if you will.
As I write this in May 2012, Microsoft has also added social search to Bing with the integration of Facebook. The whole concept right now is a bit like Twitter in the beginning stages: Looked at oddly and the significance downplayed tremendously. The reality however is that social search will one day simply become "search".
You see, the Internet as a whole is going the way of social. There's no escaping it. We've seen these changes happening for years and with the changes Google has made and the changes Bing is making, we're reaching the precipice. With that said, social search is still in the early stages. It just hasn't caught on that much.
Over the next few years, that's likely to change as even more people flock to social networks and integration with these social networks becomes deeper and deeper. This all brings us back to businesses utilizing social media and investing time with the various platforms. Those who do and on an active, consistent basis, will already have an advantage once social search becomes more of just search.
In the meantime, it all comes down to content. Highly targeted, highly valuable content that is both created on social networks and created on blogs to then be spread on social networks. +1's, likes, and retweets will and are becoming the new influencing factor whereas it used to be just comments and backlinks.
And since Google is giving so much weight to Google+ which, being their own social network makes obvious sense, those who are already investing the time there, will definitely reap the rewards as time goes on.