As usual, TechCrunch has got us thinking about things in a different light. One of my favorite social media applications, Twitter, has been getting more exposure in the mainstream lately, and with that more people are questioning what they can use Twitter for. Some see the micro-blogging service as just another distraction, or instant messaging on speed. Much to my chagrin, many marketers are seeing Twitter as just another publishing platform to push ads. And still some are seeing it for what it is: a valuable tool.
And what it’s becoming: a search engine.
Michael Arrington reminds us that it’s time to start thinking of Twitter as a search engine. Ever since Twitter bought Summize and folded it into Twitter Search, more and more people are using this feature to find trends in their markets, other people interested in the same hobbies they are, and much more. There are a handful of third-party services as well, like TweetLater.com, that also provide keyword tracking for Twitter searches and email users a digest of search results. A true mark of Twitter becoming more of a search engine is a new Firefox add-in that adds real time Twitter results to your Google SERPs. From TechCrunch:
Twitter knows it, too. They’re going to build their business model on it. Forget small time payments from users for pro accounts and other features, all they have to do is keep growing the base and gather more and more of those emotional grunts. In aggregate it’s extremely valuable. And as Google has shown, search is vastly monetizable—somewhere around 40% of all online advertising revenue goes to ads on search listings today.
Online marketers have been speculating almost since Twitter’s inception in 2006 how they’ll eventually make money. When the Track features were removed, many speculated that the quick solution for Twitter to monetize would be to offer this valuable service for a fee. However, they still haven’t brought back track to the masses or offered it as a premium paid service (at least, not publicly). Only recently have the creators of Twitter started sharing thoughts on how they may monetize the service.
Of course, for the searches to be relevant you have to participate genuinely. If Twitter becomes a haven for spammers and marketers just pushing links and deals, then of course the search results you get on Twitter will be clouded. But I have high hopes that the few of us preaching Twitter clarity will win out and the user base will continue to participate on a human level, making the search results that come from Twitter more rich in content than even a Google search.
Trisha Lyn Fawver manages affiliate programs, blogs, and explores the world of social media, all at TrishaLyn.com.