Having just missed my flight back from Helsinki catching up on the weeks articles about Bing and Facebook’s get-together, amongst others things; I thought it was only right to post a blog entry of my thoughts around this initiative…

The unused ticket..

So Facebook ‘likes’ are now forming part of Bing’s search results, delivering socially indexed search results based on what your friends like.  Many digital followers may have expected something like this with Balmer’s (Microsoft CEO) pushing through a purchase of $240m in 2007 in Facebook.  Overall I’m excited by the concept and it’s potentially very powerful for creating brand loyalty – within social circles there are usually always leaders and followers, enough of the leaders advocate a certain brand then the followers will, well, follow.

Interestingly watching Bing’s promo video they publicise the fact that you can find your ‘long lost’ friends easier on Facebook (which google already do through indexing pages to an extent) followed by the Social ‘likes’ as a secondary concept.  I guess this is their way of easily hooking unsuspecting people into the concept of the MS/FB working together before divulging the real meat that the digital evangelists  among want to see.

And in the 2nd video I watched they focus more on the ‘meat’ and really go in for kill stating:

“We all know that the world is not defined through how human beings connect to machines – its defined by how we connect to other people..”

Bing/Facebook are now trying to effectively replicate the coffee-shop/play ground/pub conversations that happen between friends but on a much greater digital scale, so rather than a 1:1 its now a 1:350+ (depending on how many friends you have).  So now by searching for information about a new film (for example) that is released you can gain an immediate insight into what you’re friends thought – naturally there are friends that like the same films, influencing your  decision to watch or not.  A simple example, but a concept that can be thought of about almost anything.

Alike to Google’s integration of Tweets within search results there seems to be an inconsistency of where/whether the Facebook social aspect will appear within Bing’s results.  This therefore (like Google’s social offering) could lead to people just forgetting it exists and taking no notice.  A dedicated specific area would be best; but then this would then just be Facebook displayed through another medium – maybe a specific area (like Google Paid Listings would work!?).

So what does this mean for brands out there?

  • Boost’s BING’s muscle in the search arena by offering something different.  The direction currently online (apart from Facebook) is for brands to move into Mobile, Geo, Comparison, social gaming advertising or Google Rich Media ads (following my last post) – I’m not sure that Brand Managers have even considered a Microsoft offering.  Well from this that may change.
  • From a consumer point of view this gives more ammunition when looks for reviews/opinion about brands; coupling with Twitter’s already established entries within Google’s results.

Therefore all-the-more important for Brands to perform in the Digital space.

  • Gives Bing oceans of consumer information that currently Google cannot access – a no Google zone (which is rare).

Arguably the 500m users on Facebook are the most honest across all the Social Networks, simply because the perception is across the masses that it is ‘private’.

For me its never great to see a one horse race, glad to see that Microsoft are back in the search race and looking forwards to battle ahead – a betting man may now go for the wise old giant because they now have a good jockey (in Zuckerburg) helping to fuel the horse.

If you’re looking for a more in depth article about the Bing / Facebook partnership then I’d suggest the following by @dannysullivan.  This goes into the depths or what it is / isn’t, how it works, and how Facebook is/isn’t going to reshape search; I’ll leave that to the experts. I’m interested in its immediate and long term opportunities to the consumer brand marketers out there when building their strategies.  Any comments to coincide with this post very welcome.


Chris (Helsinki Airport)

follow me @chrissbell