MicroSoft Does Social Search

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Microsoft is going to launch a social search product in the next month:

Microsoft plans to unveil a question-and-answer social-search tool in the coming months, says Justin Osmer, senior product manager for MSN. The feature will let users direct questions to a specific universe, such as a group of friends, rather than to get automated lists of results from a generic search engine.

The BusinessWeek article also says that they may be interested in buying Eurekster.

The foray into social search may not end with the new tool, either. Microsoft is in talks to buy or forge a partnership with two-year-old startup, specializing in social-network search, BusinessWeek Online has learned from people familiar with the matter. A Microsoft spokesman declined to comment.

The alleged value on social search is that since friends ask for product recommendations there are more commercial queries

Social search could also carry more revenue-generating potential than basic search. Yahoo's research shows that people typically use social-network search to find e-commerce opportunities. "These are transactional queries," says Horowitz. "These searches are monetizable." That means advertisers may pay more to have their ads associated with searches that have a social component.

I tend to think the social stuff is overblown for a few reasons:

  • As people get better at pointing people exactly where they want to go the ads near that content become less appealing. (this is one major reason why scraper sites have a much higher CTR than most legit content sites)
  • People who look to use alternate or more advanced tools are typically going to be a bit smarter and less receptive to advertising than the average person. Have you ever read blog posts from tech bloggers whining about how nobody clicks their ads?
  • Many people are embarrassed to show their ignorance in front of large groups. Some may feel that even asking questions makes them look silly or dumb.
  • Most high value questions that can't be answer by text on the web already are going to be at least somewhat sensitivity or confidential in nature (either for financial or emotional reasons).
  • As the size of a group grows the ability to trust individuals in it goes down.
  • The cost of communication is rapidly approaching zero.
  • As the value or importance of our query goes up it is just as easy for me to ping DaveN or another SEO legend as it is for me to throw something out there to a large group.

While I was writing this Philipp Lesson shared a Google search event calendar with me. To me the social bits of search are about sharing upcoming opportunities and things that are interesting more than sharing instant answers to questions.



The feature will let users direct questions to a specific universe, such as a group of friends

I thought this is what email is for....

Anyway, agree with you 100%, Aaron.

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