By PETER WYLIE, special to LTW

Editor’s note: Peter Wylie is vice president and account director at , a social media marketing company in Raleigh.

RALEIGH, N.C. – Microsoft Bing and Facebook already have a search deal in place, and a in All Things Digital hints that they might expand the partnership to include all of the “Like” data that Facebook produces.

This would have profound ramifications on real-time search, which I covered in more detail in a earlier this week.

If Bing gains access to the data Facebook is generating about people’s content preferences, it would have a clear advantage over Google in developing next-generation search capability through integrating recent data. While Google has access to Twitter’s data stream, it does not index data about the articles that people find useful on Facebook.

Bing would be able to more predictive about the right articles to return based on people’s preferences, and those within their social network, with this close integration with Facebook.

Search engines are used by 90 percent of the adults that use the Internet, so a significant shift in how those results are generated has considerable ramifications for marketers trying to connect with their target customers. Customers “liking” a company’s content could soon be as important to ranking well in search as reputable sources “linking” to a site is today.

Earlier this week, search engine market leader Google announced that it too will seek to make its search results more social. “Google Me” will add a social layer to Google’s search engine, but the company did not divulge many specifics about what sort of data it will use to influence search results.

The move signals that Google is certainly aware of how important social data is becoming for information gathering, and moving to stay one step ahead of its competitors in adding a social component to search.

The increasing importance of social data in search results is another indication that marketers should begin engaging on social networks to position their companies for success.

As social data integrates with search results, companies will need to have a social gameplan in place to continue to be found by potential customers.

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