Bing has entered into separate agreements with Twitter and Facebook to begin indexing feeds from the two social networking sites. The socialsphere is abuzz (or atwitter) with the news. But what does the move mean for Bing and search in general?
The courtship of search and social
The romance between search and social media is the prelude to an arranged marriage. Their future union has been preordained. As more and more dialogue occurs online via social networking sites and tools, it only makes sense for those conversations to become searchable. For technology marketers, not only is the searchability of social dialogue inevitable, it’s imperative. When you look at the huge trust disparity between word of mouth and paid advertising, affording greater search visibility to independent commentary stands to help companies prosper from the new marketing.
The move by Bing rekindles interest in real-time search that affords consumers and marketers alike insight into dynamic brand sentiment. (Not that it needed RE-kindling.) In the short term, the announcements stand to provide more buzz for Bing’s battle for market share than real value for users. It probably also means just more info for searchers to wade through. As MediaPost comments, “Microsoft will provide the option to rank tweets either by the most recent or by the best match, where Bing takes into consideration a tweeter’s popularity, content of the tweet, and other indicators of quality and “trustworthiness.” Does that mean that Oprah and Ashton will gain supreme authority and page-one status on any topic they deem worthy to comment on? Hopefully not.
“How effective the feature will become as a search channel remains unclear until we see how Bing ranks and indexes information,” says Dave Harry, Reliable SEO founder. “At this point it’s difficult to say what — if any — effect it will have on search marketers. For starters, Bing doesn’t have a huge market share, which will make the impact limited. Beyond that, social search has been slow in greater adoption as well.”
While Twitter has always touted an air of transparency with its open API policies, cracking into Facebook’s more fortified walls is interesting to me. Revealing Facebook status updates to search will do less for search as it will for Facebook’s continued ascendance to social superiority. It simply provides more hooks to get new members into the community. As Catharine Taylor mentions in Social Media Insider, it might be time to consider cleaning up your personal brand as a future of your inane status updates being viewable outside the “safe” confines of Facebook becomes probable.
Underneath all the questions and speculation, the infusion of social commentary into search results was inevitable. How Bing (and Google) serve up that information is the next major question to be answered. Stay tuned, technology marketers.