By now you’ve certainly heard about Google’s increasing involvement of Google+ into search. You may have also heard of the social + search experiment from Microsoft and FUSE Labs called So.cl. Guy Kawasaki dedicates a chapter to social search functionality in Google+ in his book “What the Plus?” (If you haven’t bought this ebook yet, you seriously must. Even if you think you know Google+, Guy knows it better than you. And it’s $3.). Combining the realms of social networking and search is the next evolution in the way we interact online. The most important part of this feature is that you remain engaged with the your social network while searching. Facebook’s search function is severely lacking in this way.
Sociabell is a browser add-on for Facebook users who use Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. The completely free add-on turns Facebook’s search bar into a social search. When you type a query into the search bar, you will see the standard drop down options that you get from Facebook: people you are friends with, pages you ‘Like’, relevant apps and an option to see more results. What Sociabell does is add another box to the right of Facebook’s standard options and allows you to jump right to other social networks: Twitter, Craigslist, Google, Yahoo, Bing, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Flickr, YouTube, Wikipedia, Amazon and Google recommended results (but notice, no Google+). You also have the option to share your search with your friends, which creates a post and allows them to answer your question or recommend a site to find what you’re looking for. When you click on one of the above mentioned social outlets, the results automatically open in another tab, thus allowing you to maintain your presence on Facebook. Although, if you’re like me, you would normally just open another tab to Google something anyway, but allowing you to do it through Facebook’s user interface means you are less likely to navigate away. Sociabell states on its page that the add-on collects no personal data, but it’s not clear to me whether your search through Facebook’s search bar is still being tracked by Facebook. My guess is yes.
Sociabell is not currently supported on mobile and the Safari add-on is in the works. Friends only see what you are searching for if you share you search, so you don’t have to worry about Sociabell throwing under the search engine bus. If Google+ is clinging to the social search function as one of their big selling points over Facebook, then this is something that deserves their attention. Facebook should also take notice of Sociabell, since they’re in the “buying up useful things” mode of thinking anyway. The biggest concern that the developers at Sociabell have is Facebook taking their idea and actually finding a way to integrate it into the functionality of Facebook itself. As of right now, this browser add-on is pretty slick, and if I’m Google+, I’ve got my eye on what’s going on here.
Have you heard of Sociabell? Are you using it? Does the idea of being able to search all of your networks from Facebook appeal to you? Chime in below!
Now go get your social on!