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Bing, Facebook, and What Social Search Means for SMBs

Social Media, Search

Remember the old Reese's Cup commercials?

"Your search is in my social media! No, your social media's in my search!"

Search engine marketing is great for positioning your business in front of customers looking for your products or services, who don't necessarily know your business name.  Social media marketing is great for getting trustworthy, personal word-of-mouth recommendations for your business. For quite a while now, it's seemed like these two great marketing tastes are moving towards a collision.  Google added "+1" last month, a feature that allows users to vote for more relevant search results, viewable across their Google account contact network.

This week, the internet marketing blogosphere is all abuzz about Bing's latest entry in the social search arena.  The story has gotten coverage from:

The short version? Google's historically adversarial relationship with Facebook has left a door open for Bing to take better advantage of their decidedly friendlier one  (And yes, I would imagine $240 million buys some serious "like").

As a SMB business owner, do you care about all that techy debate? Maybe not. So here are some quick-hit implications for what "social search" means for your internet marketing.

  • Your social media marketing efforts can help level the search playing field if your competitors are mostly larger brands. When you're trying to rank against a major brand that has the resources to farm out thousands of inbound links, the idea that Facebook Likes from your actual local customers can boost your rankings among their friends and family is really good news.
  • Travel-impacted businesses may get a better boost. If you're a local restaurant or entertainment venue, the city-centric social search results will do a better job of serving reviews, likes and recommendations from people within the searcher's actual social network. For example, if Bob Smith is planning a trip to Louisville, and is doing a Bing search to check out local places to eat and things to do, he'll see information connected to people he may know in the city.
  • Local e-tailers can benefit from shared shopping lists.  But this is a feature that you might have to put some effort into getting your happy customers to actually do.
  • Expanded profile search can provide richer detail if you're a business that uses search and social to research prospects as part of your sales efforts and lead follow up.

These new features from Bing are just scratching the surface of what using social graph information to custom-tailor search results can do. We'll be watching these changes, and using them to create more effective internet marketing for all our Makespace clients.