Microsoft has announced an expansion to their long-term partnership with Facebook. The company is rolling out new features that allow users to take their friends into Bing experience, both at www.bing.com as well as within the search experience at www.facebook.com.
The new Bing experience will bring in information from Facebook friends and other people sharing the users' networks, and will show what friends have liked (using Facebook's public like platform) as the user navigates through search results in Bing.
The company says at the customer experience level search is getting more social and more personalized. They also say this is an inflection point in the search industry that will enable more interesting social scenarios in the future.
Traditionally, search engines rely on a large number of clues to help determine what you are looking for. Those clues are called "signals." Search was built on a concept of these signals that told engines what was probabilistically the most likely piece of information you wanted based on the words you entered.
This has worked pretty well over the years and helped search improve a lot - early signals like meta tags to give the engines hints on page content and reverse IP to provide more locally relevant results, which has evolved to the mobile phone with the addition of geo-location data.
Microsoft says the industry developed more complex signals like anchor text and popularity models to try and bring a human element into the mix. In Bing, they look at more than 1000 signals to try and get you the best result.
That's where "social" comes in. According to research conducted by the company, customer data shows that 50% of people say that when making a decision, they take into consideration thoughts shared by others in their circle of friends.