Microsoft search engine Bing has just launched a new social sub-site (http://www.bing.com/social), allowing users to search through Facebook Page updates and links publicly posted to personal profiles. These results are posted alongside tweets on the Social home page, which Microsoft hopes will become the new destination for social search. The new integration is part of a deal announced in October between the two companies.
Bing Social is looking to become a social search destination by returning two types of Facebook results. Updates from official Pages are displayed in their entirety, including full text, URLs, and a link to the Page itself. This incentivizes Page owners to fill their updates with common search terms in order to show up in Bing’s results. However, this could lead to spammy Pages cluttering search results by constantly updating with the most popular words of the day, much the way Twitter spammers do.
The second type of Facebook results are URLs posted in personal profiles by users whose privacy settings share their status updates or links with “Everyone.” In this case, Bing explains “No names or photos, or even the text in the update associated with the link are published – just the link in aggregate.” When you search you won’t actually see results for that term, but instead you’ll be shown URLs posted in the same update as the term alongside a headline or blurb about the link, or the number of users who have posted the link. This should keep privacy advocates happy while still providing value. However, the reliance of the feature on public updates lends a motive to Facebook’s “Recommended” privacy setting of sharing status updates and posts with everyone, which we think could be more than what many people want.
These functionalities combine with features from Bing’s Twitter integration to form the Bing Social home page. Upon landing, users are immediately shown tweets and Facebook updates about that day’s most popular topic. Users can refine results by timeframe or social media source, and can see keywords and people related to the topic. Trending topics are deduced from both Facebook and Twitter data, and explanations for their popularity are pulled from What the Trend. Bing’s results are not comprehensive, though. A search on Twitter returns many more results than appear in Bing’s stream, and copying a link from an official Page’s update into the social search engine doesn’t necessarily return any results. This makes Bing Social better for getting an impression than tracking down a specific tweet or update.
Even if the service is in beta, it’s not readily apparent how one navigates to the search engine without the URL. It’s scope is further limited because you can’t initiate a social search from the primary Bing search engine. While searching for [famous name] + “Twitter” from the Bing.com home page brings back tweets, adding “Facebook” to general Bing searches does not trigger a social search.
Overall, Bing Social’s greatest potential is in helping Facebook users to connect to new Pages. It could be especially powerful for directing users to Pages focused on their locality. While searching an issue of importance to their neighborhood, users might stumble upon the Pages of their city’s newspaper or a local government candidate who cares about the subject.
Bing has been stepping up its involvement with Facebook in other arenas as well, gaining 400,000 new fans for Bing’s Page through a promotion with FarmVille earlier this year, and helping Facebook power and improve its own search feature.