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Is Social Media the New Search Engine?

By Joe Heath | July 17, 2012

Have you run an internet search using Bing™ lately? If so, you’ve probably noticed that the Microsoft Corporation’s search engine now heavily relies on social media to generate a user’s search results.

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Once logged into Facebook, go to and run a simple search on whatever topic you choose. When the search results page appears, you’ll also notice a menu also appears in the right hand corner with a list of five of your Facebook friends. Bing™ now automatically generates this search-related list based on your friends’ “Likes,” photos, and public profile information as an additional way to help give you the information you need. Once you scroll over each friend's profile, a secondary menu will appear with another list of your friends' "Likes," which directly correlates with what you're searching.

In addition to using social media to help generate better search results, Bing™ has also added an “Ask Friends” field, which enables users who have synchronized their Facebook account with Bing™ to post a question on Facebook regarding their search. Once the question is posted, all you have to do is sit back and wait for your friends’ responses, rather than spend time searching the web yourself.

So what does this mean if you already have a high-ranking real estate website? Although there is no easy answer, it might mean it’s time to take a much closer look at how to boost your social media presence. What social sites such as Facebook and Twitter have essentially allowed us to do is control exactly what information we want to obtain over the web. If you follow CNN on Facebook, for example, every news update from CNN is automatically seen by their followers via the Facebook News Feed, so there’s very little need to log onto The same can be said for real estate. If you follow all the top agents in your local market, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll get all the local real estate news you need such as a great new listing, a terrific deal on a home in your area, and perhaps their overall take on the state of the market, given these agents post such updates to their social media accounts, of course.

Search engines such as Google, Yahoo!®, and Bing™ certainly aren’t going anywhere any time soon. But how each generates search results is always changing, and social media is only the latest method. Posting blogs, sharing these blogs, and getting each to go viral is perhaps the best way to attract social media followers, but frequent posts and interaction with friends, colleagues, and local businesses will help keep your social accounts relevant. Search engine optimization is extremely important to driving a high level of traffic to your website, but because search engines and social media sites continue to become intertwined, each may now be equally significant in how home buyers find your web site. The best advice for any agent right now is to start putting an equal amount of time into both search engine optimization and social media—after all, social media, in a way, is now the new search engine to some degree.

Joe Heath is a graduate of Indiana University and also holds a Graduate Certificate in Real Estate Development from Drexel University. After working in the market research sector and authoring published Market Snapshots for Hanley Wood Market Intelligence, Joe now works as a Web Marketing Specialist and co-owns Real Estate Web Creation with his partner, Ted Guarnero, a 25+ year real estate veteran.


Joe Heath is a Digital Marketing Specialist with Real Estate Web Creation — a boutique agency that offers affordable and effective SEO and website development services to real estate agents, brokers, home builders, and developers.
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