Overnight Bing announced deeper Facebook integration via new "Like" button tie-ins, and with Google rolling out its own "+1" features, the social search race is heating up.
In a bid to provide a more personalised and socially engaged search experience, Microsoft's Bing search engine will enable a new level of Facebook integration
tomorrow, expanding upon the two companies' partnership brought about last year
The new "Friend Effect" functions in Bing are said to make searchers' lives easier by displaying Facebook-related feedback and information alongside search results. The theory is that people prefer to know what their friends think prior to making decisions, and so by adding a social layer of context to search results, users have access to instantaneous, pseudo-advice from the comfort of their browser.
Bing is set to provide social feedback from people you do know...
Bing users will now see in their search results what related sites or results their Facebook friends "Like", and the engine will actually prioritise results based on the searcher's social network; search results that may once have dwelled in obscurity pages deep will now be elevated to the top hits, depending on their relative popularity among your friends.
And, in addition to your own social circle, Bing will also highlight results and sites popular with Facebook users whom you don't know, leveraging the "collective IQ" of the web to display well-liked content, trending items and updates from brands (or "Pages", in Facebook lingo). "Like" integration in the separately downloadable Bing toolbar enables users to provide feedback directly from their browser.
...as well as broader feedback from the anonymous web.
Bing's new ramped-up Facebook functionalities announced overnight are widely seen as a defensive move in light of Google's recently enabled +1 feature
, which similarly enables users to "+1" search results and sites. That function hasn't yet been rolled out to Australia, but it's likely to arrive shortly.
With Google's 83.8% stranglehold on the search engine market (compared to Bing's paltry 3.9%), it's easy to conclude that Bing's latest initiative is unlikely to gain traction, but the great advantage Microsoft has here is its unique partnership with Facebook. Soon predicted to hit 700 million users globally, Facebook's massive user base offers Microsoft a distinct and firmly entrenched social network to leverage with Bing.
Of course, if the vast majority of those users only ever visit Google for search, it's a fair bet most of them won't even encounter Bing's latest social play.