On January 15th 2013, Facebook planted it’s so called “third pillar” of it’s social network empire, “social search”.
If Facebook *is* all about social media, and they already had a search function, how is this a big change?
Okay, well that *is* some small change..
From what I can tell of the new search feature, it’s an exclusive index of Facebook, powered by Bing. So you get better/different results from the previous search options because it’s been handled by Microsoft’s search methodology.
So, you may be wondering, “Why isn’t Bing offering an improved ‘Social Search’ now that they have access to all this Facebook data?”, and you will be amused to note that today Bing indeed announced an improved ‘Social Search’ to users of their services.
In fact, Bing’s social search results are appended to the Facebook search results, and all clicks stay inside Facebook.
Still, what’s really ‘new’ about this search behavior?
Allegedly if I tack on action words to a search like, “visited by friends” or “popular with friends”, it’s supposed to marry the search results with social data from my friends list.
I gave that a whirl, trying to find various searches that would result in ‘approvals’ or ‘likes’ from my friends and I got very poor results.
Could it be that my tech savvy friends have dialed in their Facebook privacy settings to the point where Bing’s assistance is negligible? Possibly. And I wouldn’t blame them for it.
Then I tried some of the same searches in Google, without engaging any ‘social’ tags or features, and viola, I can see restaurants, pubs, and even retail stores that people in my circles have rated. I also know now to never have lunch with Dave, since he loves all the types of restaurants I try to avoid.
Plus, thanks to Google’s purchase of Zagat, I have a fallback option for accurate/honest feedback if my friends aren’t reviewing restaurants or pubs that I want to try out or are simply closer to my location.
While I’m not seeing a real improvement, FB is seeing a nice reversal of their stock prices, which were on a steady downfall last year, as we mentioned in our May 22nd, 2012, blog post: FB stock drops as SpaceX soars to success!
How long this will bolster their faltering stock value?
Will ‘Social Search’ mature into a feature that entices disinterested users to revisit Facebook?
Clearly that’s anyone’s guess, but at least they are trying to keep the ship afloat, and search traffic could help bolster ad revenue, as it did for Google.
Time will tell.