Strategy is not about doing things better. It is about doing things differently. So in the land of search engines, trying to compute an algorithm that is better than Google’s is just not going to offer any serious competitive advantages at this point in the game. In the battle of Bing vs Google, the former commands 15% of the online search market, and the latter 66% as of March 2012. This huge gap is not going to shrink just because of slight evolutionary improvements to Bing’s search algorithm. That gap is going to shrink by going where Google is not: Facebook and Twitter. By placing a huge bet on its own social network, Google+, Google has made a strategic decision to shun Facebook and Twitter. In addition, this open competition makes Facebook and Twitter that less likely to collaborate with Google as well. So how is Bing going to shrink that gap?
This past Thursday Bing announced its most in-depth overhaul since its inception in 2009. The new design which will rollout over the next few weeks will have 3 columns. In addition to the current column which displays the search results, Bing is rolling out 2 additional columns. The first one is called “Snapshot”, and will contain such things as maps and reviews. The second additional column, which is really the “money column” in this new strategy is called “Sidebar” which will be where the relevant results from the social media will be displayed. Sidebar will display such things as comments, pictures from your Friends and Followers on Facebook and Twitter, but also blog posts from influential bloggers. LinkedIn, Quora, and Foursquare and other networks will also be added.
Search on Bing will be more social. Results will carry more weight from the “testimonial” that one’s respective network of family, friends and acquaintances will provide in terms of “likes”, tweets, check-ins, comments, and pictures. Imagine you are planning a trip to a certain tropical destination and you decide to search it on Bing. The results show that one of your friend posted pictures of that very location from a particular hotel and they raved about how great their experience was over there. Would that carry more weight? Are the chances higher that you will book your vacation in that very same hotel? We believe the answer is an unequivocal yes, which leads to very important ramification for Social Media Strategy. If Social Media was already important before for brands and small businesses, this has the potential of escalating it to a whole new level of priority. The sphere of influence of Social Media is about to get a whole lot wider. We always believed that the essence of any business strategy is to have its customer at its core. Any business that does not runs tremendous risks. Many good things came out from the onset of Social Media but one that we think has been greatly understated is the ability of consumers to hold companies accountable. Actually, in several countries, Social Media has served as the tool of choice to hold their respective governments accountable and to actually drive regime change.
A company that holds its customer at the center of its business model would be wise to not only offer superior customer service but to also incentivize its customer base to share their experience as much as possible on their respective Social Networks. In a previous post we have discussed a tool that is gaining more popularity and that in light of these new changes to how search will be performed online should gain more prominence. That tool is Social Landing Pages. Entering the Social Media or adjusting a company’s web presence is a major business decision, and one that cannot be taken lightly nor without a strategy in place.
We are not taking sides on this battle between Bing vs Google. As strategists we observe, study, and think about the different possible outcomes and ramifications that any major business decision may produce. We believe that Bing may actually have something here. I think that there are 2 major critical success factors that will decide its ultimate outcome:
We have to admit that most of the time we belong to that 66% market share that uses Google for our searches; however, if Bing is able to execute properly on its plans, there may actually be an incentive for us to use it more frequently. Time will tell. What are your thoughts, do you believe this is a game changer in the battle between Bing vs Google? Is this new strategy going to make a dent on Google’s market share? We welcome all comments.
This article was written by Pablo Davidov