Facebook and Bing announced yesterday that they were deepening their relationship and releasing the fruits of their collaboration into the wild. The Bing crew and Zuck (sounds like a Saturday morning kiddie show, no?) were all smiles and mooney eyes, a clear sign that the Google folks ought to be worried about where this is going. This move represents the merger of two major online stories that have been dominating the year:
1) Search and Social belong together like a tasty Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup
2) Bing has finally bought some competitive fire to the Google-dominated search engine space
So, what did they announce, and what will the impact be on marketers? Read on friends, read on.
The first thing to know is that the integration is reciprocal. Bing is now powering Facebook’s built-in (and little used) web search and Facebook data is integrating more fully with Bing search results. In practice this means that Bing users are already seeing new modules on results pages that highlight relevant friend’s “Likes” as well as links to Facebook pages.
While this is a significant step, what’s coming down the road in the near future could have a huge impact on how search engines operate. The Bing-a-lings on hand made it clear that they see social data as a key component in getting search past the “blue links” phase. This matches nicely to Facebook’s needs to make the data and information within their own site more usable and accessible to users. While Google will have access to the same data as part of Facebook’s Open Graph API and other sources, Bing will have a head start on seeing the way all of this stuff works in Facebook’s social environment and using that info to create better algorithms.
What this means to marketers:
1) There is no such thing as a social media strategy and a search strategy. They have to work together as part of an integrated whole. Ideally this is further integrated into a total marketing and business strategy that encompasses everything your business does.
2) You MUST give serious consideration to Facebook Like button integration on your website. It can’t be just a question of adding it to your homepage or sprinkling it around a few places like a spilled bag of Halloween candy. Be thoughtful and strategic about where these buttons go
3) Facebook is only one of the search and social integration points you have to be aware of – YouTube has long been a major factor and Twitter is already a prominent feature of Google and Bing results
4) Bing is developing as a serious and viable competitor to Google by differentiating the way results are served – Google Instant Search has actually helped to further the sense that these are two very different approaches. Expect these different approaches to lead to more divergence in how users behave and respond in both SEO and paid search environments on each site
5) SEO now must encompass your brand’s presence in social media as well as what happens on your owned sites. Your social profiles have just as much importance when it comes to visibility
6) Bringing social results closer to search means that many decision points that used to be discrete for consumers – professional reviews, friend’s recommendations, peer and user reviews, comparison shopping information, are all in the same place. The more these things are integrated on your brand sites and social media profiles the more likely you are to take a consumer from research to a decision to buy in an environment that is friendly to you