Recently Bing started bringing what they call the “Friend Effect” to search, giving users the option of searching the web with integrated Facebook data. You’ll never be alone again, as your Facebook fellows will be right alongside you recommending pages and pointing out hot deals to you.
This seems somewhat odd considering that only a week ago Facebook was attacking Google guerrilla-warfare style for trying to use Facebook data in their own social search ideas. Facebook is wheeling and dealing like a true mob boss.
Despite Facebook’s continuously spinning needle on the moral compass, it’s hard for me to be too critical, because after checking out the new Bing, I really like what I see.
Bing is using Facebook data in some really awesome new ways. Let’s take a look at what you can now expect when searching with Bing.
That’s the Way Uh-huh Uh-huh I “Like” it: Liked Search Results
This one is a bit of a no-brainer, as Bing boosts pages with Facebook likes to the top of the search results. Like dirty fingerprints on your shiny iPhone, you’ll see the marks of your friends all over your SERP. As long as you appreciate and value the opinions of your buddies (you did friend them after all), you should be pleased.
Bing offers a nice touch by adding the faces of up to three of your friends that like a search result, giving a “visual and virtual seal of approval” from your pals. This applies to news, movies, music, brands, etc.
What’s cool is that you’ll also see results that are liked by Facebook users in general, not just your friends (in case your friends are so lame that they don’t like anything). You get what Bing likes to call the “collective IQ,” showing what’s popular and recommended by the entire Facebook community.
Finding Your Friends is Easy
When you search for a specific person, Bing will show you a more in-depth Facebook bio with a photo, location, education, and employment to ensure you are finding the correct person.
Mind if I Crash on Your Couch?
When searching a specific location, Bing now shows you which Facebook friends live in that city, enabling easy mooching access for a free place to stay and insider advice about the hottest local clubs/cafes/dance halls (assuming you live in the 1960s).
Does This Dress Make me Look Fat? Get Shopping Advice From Pals
As Bing tells us, 80% of people will delay making a decision until they can get a friend’s opinion. With this in mind, Bing lets you easily create custom shopping lists that you can then share and discuss over Facebook. Being the farthest thing from a social fashionista, my friends often ask me if I was on drugs or mentally unstable when seeing my latest clothing purchases. Now I can get their opinions before I degrade myself with a hideous pair of sunglasses that , as others assure me, I “definitely cannot pull off.”
Bing also offers the ability to see what friends have upcoming birthdays, and then do some gift shopping for them. While this is a cute idea, it sure sounds like the kind of thing Facebook would be howling at Google for trying to implement.
Everyone and their mom seems to offer their own web toolbar, and Bing is no exception. The only difference is that Bing’s bar might actually be worth installing, as it lets you quickly and easily "like" and share any page on Facebook, even if the page itself lacks the like option.
Caption: With the Bing Toolbar, you can instantly “like” adorable pictures of puppies on Facebook, button or not!
The only downside to the Bing Bar is that it is currently only available to Internet Explorer users. That seems a bit childish if you ask me. I mean come on, it’s not the '90s (and just between us, I look down a bit on IE users. But who doesn’t?).
Watch Out Google! Bing is Stepping it Up
I don’t usually dare to speak against Google, but I think Bing has really smoked Google on this one, blowing Google’s +1 out of the water.
Being primarily a Google user (along with 80% of the webiverse), I can honestly say I am pretty impressed with Bing’s new Facebook integration and the fun and original ideas incorporated.
In the wise words of Harry Potter’s Professor Tewlawney, “…either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives.” While I doubt Bing’s new headway is enough to usurp Google from the royal throne, Google better watch its back, because Bing is bringing its A game when it comes to social search.