Social search, that is, search aided by our friends or online connections, suggests that being able to search your friendsâ€™ opinions, interests, and actions would create a better search experience. We already look to our friends for recommendations on movies, restaurants, and vacation spots, so doesnâ€™t it make sense that our favorite search engines would be aided by content from our social connections?
Although companies have recognized the significance of using trusted contacts as filters and have approached this in various ways, so far, we havenâ€™t realized the promise of social search. But recent announcements have made it clear that social mediaâ€™s influence has made its mark with the big search players. In the past few weeks, both Bing and Google announced programs which will bring real-time updates from our social circle to search results, perhaps transforming search as we know it. Enter Bing Twitter Search and Google Social Search.
Bing Twitter Search
At bing.com/twitter, users can search real-time Twitter updates, or navigate the most popular topics being discussed.
Google Social Search
Via Google, users can search for information posted by their network of contacts via their blogs, Twitter and social network profiles, with results appearing at the bottom of the search page, in their own section, with the heading â€œResults from people in your social circleâ€. You can opt-in to try Google Social Search at Google Labs.
Itâ€™s unclear who is the winner here, or if either of these products is social search done right. For instance, Iâ€™m not sure why Bing Twitter Search simply isnâ€™t available on Bingâ€™s main search page. And Google Social Search is managed through a Google profile, requiring users to be logged in (users must manually add connections to their Google profile, in order to have them to appear in search results). And while Google Social Search will not include Facebook, Microsoft announced Facebook status updates and content from Facebook users with public profiles will soon appear in Bing Search Results.
One thing is for sure, these big moves prove that search and social have joined forces for good. And the search experience is bound to improve with consumers benefiting from relevant, personalized real-time data.
Long term, implications to marketers may be profound. Product searches will garner trusted consumer sentiment, whether good or bad, next to general search results. It is already vital for marketers to engage with consumers in the social web, but now marketers must think about how their communications with customers will play a part in search results.
According to search expert, Noah Mallin, at Reprise Media, social search will play a part in â€œinfluencing public perception and giving companies vital information in areas ranging from corporate reputation management to customer service and product development.â€