Bing’s social sidebar is probably the single best feature that distinguishes it from Google. That is important because of Google’s seemingly impenetrable hold on search engine market share. Bing is now testing a revamped social sidebar.
One of the main differences is cosmetic. The gray background is now white. The header now reads “social results” and the “post” button keeps the same Facebook terminology people are used to. This change is good because it makes the sidebar seem integrated into the search results. The previous version was easy to dismiss and not look at because it looked more like a large display ad. It is possible that several users did not look into the box to see what was happening for this reason. The new integration highlights that it is indeed a search result.
There is also a behind the scenes update to the sidebar. The search is now more discriminating in what is returned. Often the social results would return if just a word was shared with the search query. Now, however, Bing is doing more to measure the relevance of what is offered up from social networks. This will help make Bing better at pointing users to experts. It might be enough of a boost to help Bing make up some ground on Google in total marketshare. It will also help the Michigan marketing firm that works on making its clients thought leaders in an industry. That expertise will help put brands onto more search results.