Microsoft and Google have both announced this week new social aspects to their search results with deeper integration of Facebook at the centre of the changes.
Earlier this week Microsoft announced that it had teamed up with Facebook to “help you make faster, more informed decisions." The new initiative will see which of your Facebook friends ‘Like’ certain search results to allow you make a more informed decision. If none of your friends have liked any of the results, Bing will give you anonymous 'Likes' from other people to show which result is most popular. "This 'Friend Effect' is apparent in most of our decisions and often outweighs other facts because people feel more confident, smarter and safer with the wisdom of their trusted circle," a Bing spokesperson said. This new move will be seen as direct opposition to Google’s Plus 1 feature which it rolled out at the end of March in the United States. To take advantage of this feature you will need to be signed into both Bing and Facebook.
The Bing service looks a lot like Google’s Social Search which launched back in 2009 in the United States and is now being rolled out around the globe in 19 languages. The system not only uses Facebook but also Twitter, Blogger and Flickr connections to let you see what your friends have to say on a particular search query. Again, like the Bing feature, you will need to be signed into a Google account before you can access these features. You can then link various accounts from other social networks to have those friends turn up in the search results. You will also see results from Google Chat and Buzz contacts. Last week we saw a very public spat between Facebook and Google and no where in the official blog post announcing the expanded social search feature is Mark Zuckerberg’s company mentioned. However as Facebook is by far and away the largest social network on the planet you are more likely to see Facebook friends’ recommendations or 'Likes' than those from your three Buzz contacts. Google has also promised to roll out the Plus 1 service around the globe soon, so get those "thumbs up" ready.
Microsoft claims that 90 percent of people seek advice from family and friends as part of their decision-making process, so social search is certainly seems the way forward when looking for recommendations. However, we don’t think that Microsoft’s deeper integration of Facebook in Bing will make much of a difference to its market share but it’s a nice feature for Bing users to have.