If You Choose and In Some Cases Even if You Don't: Bing Results Become More Social
Today’s announcement builds on a number of Facebook features that have been integrated into Bing search results beginning in October 2010. As Greg Sterling notes on Search Engine Land, “[The] news today is that Bing is entering a kind of “phase II” of the process, doing some more interesting and potentially useful things with Likes.”
Today, search remains largely driven by facts and links – we think it’s time to change that.
Research tells us that 90% of people seek advice from family and friends as part of the decision making process. This “Friend Effect” is apparent in most of our decisions and often outweighs other facts because people feel more confident, smarter and safer with the wisdom of their trusted circle. A movie critic may pan the latest summer block buster, but your friends say it’s the feel good movie of the year, so you ignore the critic and go (and wholeheartedly agree). Historically, search hasn’t incorporated this “Friend Effect” – and 80% of people will delay making a decision until they can get a friend’s stamp of approval. This decision delay, or period of time it takes to hunt down a friend for advice, can last anywhere from a few minutes to days, whether you’re waiting for a call back, text, email or tweet.
Pick the brains of friends of who live where you’re traveling and share shopping lists with your own team of retail gurus. And, return the favor to your friends by liking more things on the Web. With one click you can let your network know that you like a brand, an article, a celebrity or even a place. Because we know the best decisions are not just fueled by facts, they require the opinions and recommendations of your friends.
The remainder of the blog post contains an overview of each new feature, some screencaps, and several videos demonstrating the new features.
First, the opening sentence from the blog post: “Today, search remains largely driven by facts and links – we think it’s time to change that.”
Whatever the intent of what Bing means here the sentence is sounds silly.
Why? First, some people use search engines TO find factual information. Not every search from a searcher wants a recommendation or opinion from a Facebook friend or the collective wisdom from the web. We think the sentence is not only unclear but also makes it appear that facts and links are of reduced value these days.
Second, it’s likely that we have friends (in the Facebook sense) who are wonderful people and people who have been friends for many years (in a more traditional sense). Just because someone is your friend (especially in the Facebook world) doesn’t mean you’ll always agree with one or more of them about a movie, restaurant, vacations spot, etc. Plus, it’s very likely that you have a few Facebook friends who you don’t know all that well. They can be friends you see during the summer since you’re on the same softball team, or you take a class together, or live on the same block.
80% of people will delay making a decision until they can get a friend’s stamp of approval.
Depending on the info need, someone who want’s a “stamp of approval” from a friend would want likely communicate with that friend and discuss the situation. Yes, friends may actually converse with each other ab0ut a decision and not use a search engine to get an answer.
There are degrees of “like” but Facebook only gives you one choice. It’s one or the other. You like the food at a restaurant but the service can vary greatly from visit to visit and while it’s a fun place for adults it’s not very kid friendly. So, in some situations you like but in others you don’t. Facebook doesn’t provide for this.
Finally, the Bing blog post discusses how the collective wisdom (they call it the Collective IQ) of the entire web will act as one of many signals in determining results. In theory this sounds cool but in practice it could lead to a mess.
Collective IQ – It’s not just your friends that can help you out – there’s also value in the larger brain trust of the Web. Bing now brings the collective IQ of people to decision making, when your friends don’t have the right expertise or you’re not sure what you’re looking for. Search is better when it’s not just based in math and algorithms, but also infused with the opinions of people. Input from the collective IQ can enable search to become a discovery tool, allowing you to benefit from the connections, inferences and “likes” of it.
For many years we’ve seen time and time again how search results can be gamed if a group of people want to manipulate answers for commercial gain or just for fun. You can even do the manipulation by yourself or with a small group of people. Why? Because a small group can be turned into a large group for a fee by simply buying your friends. Example 1 ||| Example 2 Can Bing handle the possible gaming of some results? Stay tuned.
Of course, it’s easy to avoid the your personalized results. Simply don’t link your Facebook account to Bing. To be fair, we should give Bing’s new features some time to see if they work and if they’re useful.
About Gary Price
Gary Price (email@example.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com. Gary is also the co-founder of infoDJ an innovation research consultancy supporting corporate product and business model teams with just-in-time fact and insight finding.