Microsoft has been chasing Google in the search market for close to a decade. During that chase, the software giant has tried nearly everything to differentiate itself from Google, including providing its users with shopping discounts from major retailers.
When Microsoft launched Bing in 2009, the company touted the new search product as a discovery engine — one that provided a user-friendly alternative to Google’s “10 blue links” — which Microsoft executives contended provide a lousy user experience.
And while Bing still trails Google in market share by a wide margin, despite Microsoft’s search deal with Yahoo, Bing leapt past Google last fall when it struck a deal with Facebook to incorporate users’ likes into its search results. Just recently the two companies expanded that pact ; when conducting searches Bing users can now see Facebook like results from users who aren’t necessarily friends.
Could social be Microsoft’s opening? For one, Bing may be able to leverage social search results to unearth ecommerce opportunities for brands. Targeting users who like particular brands could also prove to be a powerful customer retention tool.
“Online, people are increasingly looking to their friends for advice and opinions, and search is a place many people go to complete tasks, making it a natural place for this information to come together,” stated a Microsoft spokesperson. “The enhancements to our social search offerings allow people to take their friends with them to search, helping them make faster, more informed decisions with the help of their friends. This is one of many steps in a long term partnership, and people can expect to see more from Bing and Facebook in the future.”