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Oct 2010

Bing/Facebook vs. Google: the social media battle continues

Posted in Social Media | 0 Comments

This week Bing seriously upped their game by teaming up with the Facebook developers to try once again to make Bing search results more social.

The idea is that after someone conducts a search on Bing, they will be able to see which of their Facebook friends have ‘Liked’ whatever it is they have searched for. The results which have been ‘Liked’ by your friends will come up at the top of the search results. Bing believes that this will make the results mean more for users who will gain more from the search.

At the moment it only works in the US, but if it does well Microsoft and Facebook plan to bring it to the rest of the world.

But what about Google, which currently has the market dominance? Google has added a ‘Shared by’ link. Their SERPs already incorporate real-time results and the number of times people have shared the article. It also shows you mentions on social-networks.

The difference between Bing and Google’s offerings is that Bing will show you which of your friends ‘Liked’ something, so you don’t just know that it may be popular but can put a face to the ‘liking’.

The question is, do we really need to see which of our friends have ‘Liked’ something we are searching for on Bing? Is it not enough to see that they like your mate’s picture or your amusing status update? And will it really make any difference to your consumer choices?

According to Bing we are constantly calling on our friends to make decisions. For example what was the film like? Do you think that dress is nice? We want to know their opinions and while they might not make up our minds for us, they will probably influence our choices.

At Microsoft’s Silicon Valley headquarters in Mountain View earlier this month, Mashable was live blogging from the event and reported the following:

‘Zuck is going back to when Facebook got started. “From studying psychology, I knew that a huge amount of people’s brains is focused entirely on processing information about people.” Emotions, expressions etc. This is the most interesting information that people track around the world — it’s hard-wired into us.’

There is certainly something of the truth in this, we do want to know about others around us. However what happens if, to take the example used by Bing, we are looking for a good steak restaurant in San Francisco? We search for it in Bing, the results come up and we’ll probably just choose one of the first results. But with the integration of Facebook, we will see what our ‘friends’ on Facebook have ‘liked’. This of course relies on the fact that our friends are searching for similar things that we are.

Also, I don’t know about you, but a lot of the people on my Facebook are not actually my close friends. If for example someone who I believe has bad taste ‘Likes’ something, I will be even less likely to visit the place. I don’t know whether this means I should do some serious ‘Friend’ culling on Facebook or whether there is a flaw in Bing’s latest developments.

But let’s face the hard facts. In the UK google has roughly  a 90% share of the search engine market, whereas Bing has about 4%. In the US Google has a 71% share and Bing has about 10%. So, we’re not talking about Bing merely being a little behind Google in the market, it is a long way off being the most-used search engine.

By joining up with Facebook though, Bing is upping it’s game. Facebook is, as we know huge and constantly growing, and the network certainly has an impact on internet trends and what people are doing and buying. But it may need more than that to compete with Google. Especially as Google is realising, that it doesn’t matter what size your business is and how well you are doing, you need to get involved with social media or you’re going to get left behind.

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