To build upon their “Bing Is For Doing” philosophy, America’s second largest search engine has decided that it will follow in Google’s footsteps and provide social integration. More information about the merger of social and search platforms across the web can be found in a previous 90blog post. Bing will attempt to do what Google has decided against and use Facebook (among other social networking sites) as its primary tool to get answers for its users. As Bing says, “Recent attempts at social search haven’t unlocked the full potential of tapping our social networks.” Through an integrated format called the Sidebar, users will be able to get the opinion of friends, family, and colleagues online, much as you would in person.
However, the first thing a Bing user might notice will likely be the area between search results and the Sidebar where the feature called Snapshot will allow users to collect more information about a result without having to click into the link. Snapshot, an open-web collection of relevant information pertaining to a link in the results, is the other significant piece of the update. For example, a user looking for a place to eat could find reviews, a map, and even reserve a table or find other useful information in one integrated column.
The largest change to the search engine comes through the previously mentioned Sidebar, which differs from Google by taking the social content out of the main search pane and putting it into its own section. It will appear minimized to the right to begin with, and anyone who wants to use it will simply need to click in order to begin interacting with the content. The first section features an option to ask your friends on Facebook a question, include links from the results, and even add friends who may be knowledgeable on the topic to the question to get better quality answers. The ‘People Who Know’ feature is another area to utilize to get search results. This section features people who have posted content relevant to the search term on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and even blogs. This has the opportunity to enable users to discover information from people ‘in the know’ on a particular topic to get better results.
The business implications for Bing’s social search could be substantial. If a user’s friends have interacted with a business page by liking, commenting on, or sharing content, this could be included in search results. Thus, business pages would gain heightened visibility through their fan base, thereby increasing reach and brand awareness through organic and social avenues.