Facebook and Bing’s social search tie-up, announced last week, makes Facebook’s Open Graph API more essential to brands’ online marketing strategy, according to experts.
The partnership means that if users connect their Facebook and Bing accounts, the latter will display results ‘liked’ by their Facebook friends within natural and paid-for links. It also applies to search results served by Bing within Facebook.
People can ‘like’ pages and articles on sites that use Facebook’s Open Graph, the social plug-in it launched this year (nma.co.uk 22 April 2010).
Microsoft and Facebook said results will be populated slowly,and users clearly notified of the changes. Although they’ll be activated by default, users can opt out.
The deal is part of the major search engines’ drive to make results more social. Last month Bing launched a Twitter feature that recommends people to follow based on search results (nma.co.uk 23 September 2010).
Microsoft and Facebook, which have an established relationship, said the deal will use people’s trusted contacts to help them find content more easily.
At the launch, Microsoft senior VP for online services Satya Nadell said Bing was capitalising on the fact that social is becoming a crucial factor in the evolution of search results.
“What’s most exciting for Bing is the evolution of this new signal, based on something more than just pattern recognition or keyword matching,” he said. “It’ll allow us to better predict what resources and content are most relevant to you because, in addition to all the other signals we use, people you trust have found them interesting. It means more personal search and better tools to help you make decisions.”
The rollout is US-only at this stage but, as with previous Bing and Facebook launches, it’s expected in the UK in the near future.
Search and social experts said that despite Bing’s marginal UK market share, brands will have to look at incorporating Open Graph into their sites if they haven’t already.
Chris Whitelaw, president of digital marketing agency I-Spy Marketing, said, “It adds even more value to a Facebook ‘like’ for a brand. Those that have been investing in Facebook and building good content and thus followers will start seeing real benefits within search.”
Neil Jackson, search strategy director at search and social agency Tamar, said it raises the question of what type of agencies should manage social accounts. “When talking to clients, there’s always the conversation about who should own the relationship between the brand and Facebook and Twitter,” he said. “But this is the first time we’re seeing search and social combined in a highly visible position in results.
Bing is doing a lot of the development in search at the moment, rather than Google, he added. “This is partly because, as a challenger, it has to, but also because it has this kind of relationship with a company such as Facebook.”