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Bing Social Search Now Recommends People To Follow On Twitter

Who’s an expert in a particular topic that you might want to follow on Twitter? Bing Social Search has a new feature offering these types of recommendations.

Do a search on Bing Social Search for anything, such as apple, and Bing comes back with recommendations like this on the right-hand side of the page:


It’s a nice feature. For example, do a search for Paramore:

And you get recommendations for both the band’s main account and the personal account of lead singer Hayley Williams. That’s something Twitter misses in its own People Results (or Name Results, for those who don’t have the new Twitter interface):

And Misses…

However, the feature is clearly not perfect. For example, in a search for google, I get:

That’s the Google Retail account, Google At Work account, the Google I/O conference account — but not the main Google account itself.

For Twitter, I get:

Again, I get some official Twitter accounts, but not the main one.

For Facebook, I don’t even get any Facebook official accounts. Instead, Mashable gets top billing:

Over at Twitter, its People Results did better in these cases. For Facebook, I get the official Facebook account first:

So, too, for Google. The main account comes first:

And that’s also true for Twitter itself:

The Blue Checks, Popular & Influential Icons

In Bing’s results, you’ll see some accounts with blue checks next to them. This indicates that they are verified accounts, accounts where Twitter has verified that the person really is who the account claims to be (such as Lady Gaga’s account being real, or Katy Perry’s account being real).

Speaking of celebrities, I ran few searches for popular celebrities that people seek (see article below for more) and found that the new Bing feature did a pretty good job with listing the actual celebrities in these results.

As for those “Influential” or “Popular” icons, like you see here:

Bing tells me this about them:

Influential: for a given topic, the user tends to drive a lot of conversation, which often means the user’s tweets are retweeted quite a bit.   Having a lot of followers helps but doesn’t necessarily mean the user drives a lot of conversation.

Popular: for a given topic, the user gets talked about a lot. For example, if you an Entourage fan, the HBO account is Influential, while Jeremy Piven is popular.

Decisions, Decisions

I was also curious about the algorithm behind the system. Was Bing just taking Twitter’s People Search results but somehow reranking them? Or was it calculating what to recommend on its own? And why didn’t the “official” sites seem to come up better. I received this Paul Yiu, group product manager on Bing’s social search, about an hour after I originally posted this story:

The use case you mentioned, related to “looking for THE official account” reminds me of a navigational query.  We did not focus on that use case, especially since it works nicely on twitter.

This is more about discovering Twitter users for a given topic.  The most immediate answer to a query is still the shared links and the updates/tweets in the middle column.  We hope users are delighted when they see they can also check out some people that happen to be in the middle of the conversation.  I didn’t know Jeremy Piven had a twitter account – now I do because I saw him when I queried a popular topic, Entourage.

More Info

Bing has a blog post up about today’s new feature. These articles also explain more about how to find people of interest to follow:

Postscript: See our related article, Who To Follow For Political Tweets? Bing Endorses Sarah Palin!

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