In order to compete with search engine giant, Google, Bing redefined its value proposition by adding social media to its search results. Bing’s social sidebar, a component of the search screen that sits on the left-hand side of the results page, integrates Facebook, Twitter, Quora and Foursquare into search results in order to glean answers to questions from the searcher’s social network.
The social sidebar has three components: “friends who might know”, “people who know” and “activity”. Through a partnership with Facebook, “friends who might know” pulls public information from friends profiles to enhance search. This information includes current location, places lived, pages “liked” and photos shared. The sidebar allows to communicate with these friends directly from the results page so that searchers can ask their friends questions about their inquiry. In the “people who know” section, experts and enthusiasts on the topic are shown. These individuals have blogged or tweeted about the topic and represent people that are influential on the search subject. Similar to the “friends who might know” section, users can click on the expert to read their blog or follow them on Twitter without interrupting their search. Finally, “activity” illustrates real-time posts and queries from Facebook friends about the topic in question. Users can answer friends’ questions and like their posts, with responses populating on both Bing and Facebook.
In order to enhance this social search, Bing recently partnered with Klout in order to establish legitimacy among its “people who know” experts. Klout is a social influence measurement tool that rates users on a scale from 1 to 100 based on their activity on various social networks. Through this partnership, Bing and Klout hope to solve the inherent problem of search: can I trust this source? Klout scores show why and how you can trust these experts. By clicking on the Klout score on the results page, users can see their influence, social history and gain context and insight on why these experts can claim to be experts. This relationship benefits both Klout and Bing. Through the addition of the Klout Score, Bing is able to enhance the legitimacy of social search. In retrun, Klout can use search data to add to its score matrix. Bing will become the first non-social data to be included in the Klout score and will be based off of how often a person or their content is searched.
This merging of social and search represent a critical transition in SEO. Generally, we trust our friends over random sources. Social search provides a context to the information we find and removes the uncertainty of the source. This is increasingly essential as the importance of online identities continue to grow. Basically, it’s no longer about the page of information you find, its about the people who get you there. The Bing-Klout partnership allows for the discovery of key influencers and demonstrates the way that social platforms have changed how we interact with the web. This illustrates the natural progression of online communication as what was once solely data based has become an opportunity to connect and create relationships with experts and enthusiasts from around the world.