This week Microsoft announced extended Facebook integration in Bing. Search queries will show products and websites recommended by Facebook friends. The hopeful result is a smooth integration into friends’ “likes”, without ever asking. Not only will the friend recommendation show up in Bing search results, but it will also influence the rankings.

Microsoft reports that 90% of people surveyed seek advice from friends before making decisions. With this new enhancement, the integration is hoping to leverage these relationships to deliver more relevance in search. The example below illustrates the integration into travel decisions.

Should Google Worry?

The ultimate question is do we want social search? Apparently, the search engines believe we do. The numbers still don’t add up for me. I have 401 Facebook friends. I think it’s a safe assumption that we (you and I) are over the average. Even above 400 friends is minuscule number in the amount of searches that we do.

The relationship between social and search is distant. We don’t use Google and Facebook for the same thing. Search is mostly non-shareable. Facebook is still news and entertainment: liking funny cat videos, sharing news stories, and discussing sports stories. It’s immediate and worth sharing.

Search engines are not immediate and do not need to be. I don’t need real-time results when I am searching for vacation hotels, concert tickets, or new tires. What are the chances that my 400 friends can influence my buying decision?

Is Bing Now a Better Search Engine?

Google revealed its version of the Facebook Like Button last month with +1. Both are similar in that they require friends to click or recommend to effect search engine results pages. The major difference is the history. Google is starting from scratch with +1. Bing is able to integrate several years of Facebook history in search results immediately.

The signs have been pointing toward social integration for years. But will it matter? We may not care what our friends think, but apparently Google and Microsoft does. At the end of the day, it comes down to answers. Is the Decision Engine (Bing) going to provide those answers better than Google?

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2 Responses to “Bing Likes Facebook”

  1. This integration will be more useful to advertisers and ad firms than individuals. If I see my competition with more Likes in the search results, that’s cause for concern.

    As for real peer reviews, I need text and time.

    I need to see that my friend, John, actually took the time to write a review (text) about his new tires or vacation hotel.

    The fact that you simply Liked the tires doesn’t tell me much.

  2. The problem with social search for me is segmentation. As Facebook has become more mainstream, I have been bombarded with friend requests from all sorts of people from my past. I ignored them for a while, but finally just accepted them and then promptly hid them from my feed and changed my privacy settings so they could see what I wanted them to see. Now, if I go search something in Bing I could potentially see what hotels they like or what vacuum they’ve purchased. Not helpful.

    But even if I was even able to segment my friends and only have key people appear in search, I wouldn’t share the same tastes on everything with that group either. At the end of the day, I prefer to ask or seek out reviews instead of let them determine what results I will see.

    I also agree with Dave’s comment about being important for advertisers. Good for my job, not great for my search.