Brands are increasingly turning to social media over traditional ad tactics and campaigns - and search companies are willing partners. Microsoft Bing just added a Facebook social search feature that integrates Fan pages and status updates in search queries.
Bing’s dedicated social search page at bing.com/social has launched in time for the world's most popular sporting event, today's kick-off of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
Its social page displays popular trending topics, along offers up a selection of comments from social web surfers on Facebook and Twitter. Bing will not publish the names of users or their text, but links to like-minded communities. Member pages will be aggregated, and fan pages will supply the text.
A recent check revealed the ‘hottest topic’ as the upcoming film The A-Team. However, the buzz did not differentiate between the new film and older posts including the word team.
Yahoo recently announced it would begin pulling Facebook updates and create tools for the sharing of ads in shared social graphs. Google already incorporates real-time Facebook and Twitter feeds into query results.
Advertisers are now realizing multiple benefits and broader distribution by combining search queries from Facebook Fan pages with their core brand message.
"When you search for a movie in the main search results, you might see that five people shared a link on a movie opening this weekend. We're still experimenting on how the results will show up in the SERPs," comments Adam Sohn, senior director, online services at Microsoft's Bing. (SERPs, for the uninitiated, are search engine results pages.)
Major brands such as Ford and Mountain Dew no longer do trade shows or even major sports events, opting instead to go social. When Ford launched its 2011 Explorer model they chose Facebook, leveraging their 500 million member base.
"We live in a 140-character society. When we have people's attention, we want to make sure it sticks" said Scott Monty, Ford's head of social media, to USA Today.
Ford is using social media to encourage customers to "see it not as a faceless monolith, but as an organization of people like them who can answer questions, and listen to ideas and complaints," according to Monty.
Changing marketing message as well as delivery platforms is integral to the ethos of social media and the ‘virtual watercooler.’ For 20 years, Ford’s Explorer campaigns embraced the rugged outdoors – mountains, mud, and cliffs. But the SUV image of the 90’s faltered in 2000 as SUV’s were tagged as gas hogs.
The new campaign changed the conversation. "You're not going to see Explorer parked at the top of a cliff," said Matt VanDyke, director U.S. marketing communications for Ford.
Jumping into social media to sell brands has its risks – as viral buzz knows no mistress and can change on a dime…or is it a click. But to not embrace it is less and less of an option for brand marketers and search engines alike.