Social search is garnering quite a bit of hype now that Google is further integrating Google+ into every aspect of the search engine, and with Microsoft and FUSE Labs gaining traction on their social + search experiment So.cl. In light of this, I decided to revisit Sociabell, the social search app for Facebook that allows you to search all networks and search engines directly from Facebook’s search bar. Sociabell’s CEO, Yoni Ram, was kind enough to spend some time answering some interview questions for me about Sociabell.
- What inspired you to start Sociabell?
During a surf trip in Costa Rica, I arrived at an Internet Café. As always, I opened my Facebook account to get updated and chat with my friends. I also had to search for a place to stay, and find some local restaurants, bars, surf spots, etc. I constantly moved back and forth between Facebook, Google, and other sites. It was time consuming. The clock on the Internet Café kept ticking, and I felt that there must be a better way for Facebook users to search the web. If Facebook is my “home base”, the website that is always open, and it already has a search box, why can’t I search Google, YouTube, and more directly from there?
In the development process we came up with our second main feature: Social Search – with one click you can share your search query from Facebook search box to the News Feed, and let your friends help you find what you’re searching for. It can be “a good restaurant”, “a boutique Hotel in NY”, or “an idea for a birthday gift”. We discovered that people are also using the Social Search to express their thoughts, feelings and opinions, for example: “Dan is searching for peace and love” or “Alice is searching for someone to stop Joseph Kony!”.
- The integration we’re seeing from Google+ and Microsoft is a strong indication that social + search is gaining serious traction. What are you doing to maintain relevancy and differentiate Sociabell?
While Google and Microsoft start to offer different combinations of social and search, our goal is to provide a better search experience for Facebook users, specifically for those who see Facebook as their “home base”. In the future, when Facebook rolls out their new search, we will continue to develop Sociabell to offer Facebook users an enhanced search experience. Our unique position – being between the two giants Facebook and Google, lets us provide Facebook users with capabilities that Facebook is not likely to offer (e.g. searching Google and YouTube directly from Facebook’s search box). As one of our users wrote us: “Finally, one search box that does it all!”.
- What plans do you have for improvements to functionality and design of Sociabell? What can we expect to see next?
As we see so far, we are really onto something. Our users love Sociabell and get pretty addicted to it. We receive very positive feedback, with many ideas and requests for new features. We are constantly exploring new ways to evolve our product, and our current focus is on allowing customization and personalization of the search panel.
It sounds like Sociabell has a respectable leader heading it in the right direction to handle the current trend in social media. I can’t wait to see the personalization options that Mr. Ram mentions. Facebook has been almost rapid-firing new features lately, so we’ll see where and when they finally land on a social search option to compete with the likes of Google and Microsoft. Perhaps Sociabell will receive a call from Facebook accountants offering to buy their already well-integrated app and save Facebook the development time.
If you haven’t already added Sociabell to your Facebook apps, it’s definitely worth it. It’s free, and they respect your privacy (a rare aspect in the social and search world these days). Thanks for reading, and special thanks to Mr. Yoni Ram for participating in this interview. Check out this video, highlighting Sociabell’s functionality. Now go get your social on!