An update to Bing Social offers consumers tips on who to follow on Twitter - and this could be good news for businesses using the microblogging site to establish their brands as thought leaders.

In an age when the eTailing group reports that 31 percent of consumers consider Facebook friends' posts about brands when making purchase decisions, marketers should not underestimate the power of social suggestions among online shoppers. Now, Bing has announced an update to Bing Social that offers consumers tips on who to follow on Twitter – and this could be good news for businesses using the microblogging site to establish their brands as thought leaders.

Bing Social rewards businesses that offer updated content on social channels as it provides consumers real-time relevant results mentioned on social media. It's similar to Google Realtime search, but it culls public updates from Facebook as well as Twitter.

The new People Recommendation feature will direct consumers to influential social users who are shaping conversations related to their queries. For marketers, this means delivering timely, industry-relevant content on social channels could not only bring businesses clicks through Bing Social, but it may also help them find new followers.

Mike Ching and Shubha Nabar of Bing Social explain this development is the next step in the search engine's year-long work with Facebook and Twitter to create "a 'social layer' for search that brings social information into the search experience in real-time."

Notably, Brafton reported earlier today that Google insiders similarly described the upcoming Google Me as a "social layer" that will offer consumers more relevant search results. A social component to Google will launch this fall, but, unlike Bing, it doesn't look like it will have Facebook data on its side.  

Katherine Griwert is Brafton's Marketing Director. She's practiced content marketing, SEO and social marketing for over five years, and her enthusiasm for new media has even deeper roots. Katherine holds a degree in American Studies from Boston College, and her writing is featured in a number of web publications.