Facebook’s product is important because email is the most cost-effective marketing channel that online retailers use.
The search engine wants to let consumers get input from their social connections.
Microsoft Corp.’s Bing search engine has added a feature that allows a consumer to tag up to five of her Facebook friends when doing a search, including when it relates to online shopping.
The functionality aims to help shoppers “effortlessly tap into the collective wisdom of [their] social network, and get input from your friends who are in the know,” Kim Vlcek, program manager for Bing’s social team, wrote in a blog post.
When a shopper searches for “running shoes,” for example, she can then type a question or comment in Bing’s social sidebar and tag friends who might have some insights. With the consumer’s permission, Bing then posts the question or comment on her Facebook timeline, a virtual scrapbook that features a graphical and chronological summary of events in a consumer’s life on the social network and other interests that she chooses to share. Facebook then notifies the consumer’s tagged friends so that they know to respond.
The new tagging function refines the “social sidebar” launched last month by Bing. For consumers who sign into the social network, the social sidebar automatically shows a few connections under “Friends Who Might Know” or “People Who Know” tabs. However, consumers have been limited to asking those few people whom Bing suggested they might know or asking allof her friends via an Ask Friends button.
With the new refinement, Vlcek writes, the consumer can specify which of her friends she’d like to respond to her question or comment.
Microsoft owns a 1.6% stake in Facebook.