TheFind.com and Facebook "like-based" results: The next generation of search?
Facebook's "like" button is generating a lot of buzz for a lot of brands by letting business websites display how many people are fans of their products and services. In fact, the Wall Street Journal reports some companies have seen increases of up to five times their normal web traffic after implementing the social plug-in on their sites, and the Gilt Group told the newspaper its online sales went up by 50 percent after it put the "like" button on its ecommerce page. How much more traffic could these sites garner if searchers could limit their results to well-liked pages?
TheFind.com is taking the power of social suggestion for online searchers to the next level by enabling users to refine their results based on the brands they've liked. Consumers log in to the search engine with their Facebook credentials, giving TheFind.com permission to access their basic information, profile information, friends' profile information and send them emails. The search engine then tailors answers to queries about products or services based on their Facebook data and the brands they've liked.
Marketers who have incorporated the like button on their websites may be particularly interested in TheFind's newly launched Merchant Center. Business partners can sign up for free and set up a Merchant Account to provide pertinent information that could help them increase their visibility on the search site.
This like-based search option is fairly new, but TheFind.com CEO Siva Kumar suggested to AdAge that it is already paying off. He believes he has eliminated "a lot of work for a lot of people" who would have had to figure out the interests and preferences of searchers since the "500 million [Facebook] users have done a lot of that already" with the like button. The improved result relevancy may also be attracting new users to the search site – comScore reports that TheFind.com was one of the top 10 gaining web properties in July, demonstrating a 20 percent increase over June with more than 13 million visitors.
TheFind.com isn't the only search player looking to offer relevant results based on Facebook's like data. According to All Things Digital, insiders close to the matter say Facebook and Microsoft may be extending their partnership so that Bing will have exclusive access to the anonymous data the social site collects from its like button. Users wouldn't have to log in through their Facebook accounts, but this would enable Bing to offer search results based on consumers' Facebook-specified preferences. If this deal works out, some suggest Microsoft may finally become a viable competitor for Google.
The message for marketers should be clear: search engines are moving toward offering consumers relevant content based on what they "like" through Facebook. If Facebook likes effectively act as inbound links, casting a vote for a brand that will move it up in search rankings, marketers should beef up the content they distribute through the social channel to gather as many fans as possible.