Microsoft updates Bing social sidebar with improved Facebook engagement

Bing is about to get a little more social, after Microsoft announced that it has more tightly integrated its search engine with Facebook to let users interact with friends' posts directly from the right-hand social sidebar.

Launched last year, the Bing social sidebar displays content from Facebook and Twitter that is relevant to a user's query.

Thanks to the new integration, users who have connected their Facebook accounts to Bing will now be able to comment and 'like' friends' relevant status updates directly from the search page.

The new feature works like this: if you're searching Bing for gig tickets, for instance, you might see a post from a Facebook friend saying that they are going to the show. Without leaving the Bing search results page, you'll be able to comment directly on that person's post saying you're thinking of going as well.

"If you're like us, it's hard to keep up with what friends are posting on an on-going basis, and harder still to search and find specific topics that your friends may have posted about," Bing programme manager Nektarios Ioannides wrote in a blog post. "By bringing together Bing and Facebook, you have an easy way to complement your search with helpful, interesting or insightful content your friends have shared."

The new Facebook integration comes after Microsoft updated the Bing centre column in March with social information about celebrities, professional LinkedIn details, landmark descriptions, and a Q&A format. That update was a sort of continuation of an earlier revamp, which introduced the Snapshot centre column, which provides instant results.

Recently, Microsoft deepened its partnership with Klout for Klout Experts, a new Q&A service from the social influence site. Klout is currently building up a library of responses from Klout Experts, which will eventually be integrated into Bing.