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Are search engines on the social track?

2 min read

Marketing Strategy

This post was written by Mirna Bard, a social media consultant, speaker, author and instructor of social media at the University of California, Irvine.

SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Social Media — tracks feedback from leading marketers about social media practices and issues.

Last week’s poll question: Can you see search engines such as Google and
Bing becoming social tools in the future?

  • They are already headed in that direction – 42.34%
  • Only if these sites develop their own innovative social features – 28.47%
  • Search engines and social media will always be separate – 15.33%
  • Only if they merge with or buy out other social platforms – 13.87%

One can hardly keep up with the evolution of search engines. Once we get used to a certain feature, search engines such as Google and Bing come up with something new — and lately those new things have involved social media.

If you haven’t heard or noticed, Google made major changes to its social search a while back. It now integrates real-time results from Facebook, Quora, Twitter, Flickr and others into search results. When you do a search, if someone in your network of contacts has shared something related to your query, the link to the content, their avatar and name come up in the search results. You are also able to recommend content by clicking on the +1 feature. Google also recently announced it is taking its social search service international in 19 languages.

More recently, Microsoft’s Bing became a whole lot more social with the addition of many new Facebook features, such as adding the “like” button in its toolbar. In its search, Bing also reveals your friend’s location, employment and education details as well as recent pages that they’ve liked.

I believe real-time social search has huge potential, but I am not a big fan of the current Bing features since people can probably watch every move I make on online. Doesn’t that seem too creepy to you?

We are still at the beginning stages of the ever-evolving social search. If search engines seem to be lacking in social, it is probably due to a lack of a sustainable strategy, not lack of innovation.

Do you feel Google is at a disadvantage in social search due to the partnership between Facebook and Bing? What social features would you like search engines to add?