Social SearchFacebook and Bing have teamed up to take a swing at revolutionizing the way we search online – namely, Social Search.

According to Microsoft, Bing is “Not just a search engine. It’s a decision engine.” By combining the social referral power of Facebook with Bing’s search algorithm, the update aims to give users more than just cleverly crafted, search engine optimized marketers’ results from their searches.

It aims to provide relevant results that are highly influenced by referrals from your social networks. In other words, Social Search.

How Does Social Search Work?

Once logged in, Bing immediately checks search terms for names that can be cross referenced against your friend list and the rest of the Facebook population. Results appear similar to Google Places. From the search results page you can now add a friend, send a message and even see how many mutual friends you share.

Similarly, businesses, products and services are all searched across the Facebook universe for Likes, reviews and check-ins from your friends. Oftentimes, the first result for a business will not display the carefully worded meta-description as provided by the business itself, but rather reviews from recent customers.

For more information about the newly launched developments, watch Bing’s video here.

Implications for Business

For some businesses that are unconnected with social media, these new developments of ‘crowd sourced’, social referral based search results may be terrifying. It means losing control of the copy that’s displayed to potential customers. It means public reviews about your business being shown, whether or not you’re even aware of them.

What’s a Business to Do?

The good news is that it is possible to encourage the social community to get involved with your business, thus increasing the volume of reviews. In general, the social media connected community tends to be overwhelmingly fair to businesses that act openly and honestly in public.

Businesses that deliver a quality product and treat their customers fairly will likely benefit from the extra visibility that the social search results will deliver.

Encourage Customer Reviews to Take Advantage of Social Search

Peer-reviewed and crowd sourced opinion about your business has never been more important.

For years marketing students have been taught that a good experience can breed two reviews and a bad experience can breed eight.

Clearly we’re seeing an exponential explosion of this rule, resulting in all types of reviews – positive and negative – reaching hundreds of thousands of peers and influencing their purchase decisions every day.

Customers’ reviews, opinions and habits are publicly available and now are being promoted to the top of search results. The result will be that companies who pay attention to the needs of their customers, respond in kind and treat all of their stakeholders fairly will come out on top.

Isn’t social media fantastic?

What do you say?

Never heard of social search? Or have you been engaging this business strategy all along? Let us know by leaving a comment below and you could be featured on Fan Friday.