Is Twitter a search engine
Posted in Social Media on 3rd November 2011
I read an article recently that asked this question, Dan (the author) went on to say how he found himself looking for things on Twitter increasingly more often. Now for many people the immediate answer is no, and I think that I too would have to say no. Due to the fact that Twitter doesn't conform to what I consider to be the stereotypical definition of a "search engine". If I type 5 * 5 into Twitter I don't get 25 returned, much as if I type a postal code I don't get a map up. To me a search engine can differentiate a plethora of commands. Twitter clearly can't do this. But this would be one awful post if I just said "No"......end of blog.
But I was thinking about this question and my own perspective on it and a tiny sentence on my own website homepage written some months ago, which reads, "Social Media Marketing - The future of search some would say". Last night I was thinking about this topic because I do think that Twitter provides something in terms of a search engine. How I like to describe this is "Real Time Dynamic Querying", I actually just coined this phrase, I'm not sure if this phrase exists in this context, I just "Googled" it and it and perhaps it doesn't (note how I used Google and not Twitter) , so I'm claiming it as mine.
But to explain my new thinking in more detail, what Twitter provides is a possibility that only people engaged in social communities are possibly aware of. An answer from the man at the top of the pyramid, the head honcho of a business so to speak. Or at least somebody who is well enough established within the business to be in charge of essentially their PR campaign. Social Media such as Twitter has blown apart all boundaries between job description, class and demographics. This is how we start to define "Real Time Dynamic Querying", it's the fact that a few years ago if I was unhappy with a product or a company I'd have to ring up the company, speak to some sort of call centre assistant just to try and complain. Often whoever you spoke to simply didn't care about your problem. Now you can literally tweet your message to somebody important. I've seen customers tweet people like Duncan Bannatyne with a complaint and guy replies to sort their problem out! Try getting that kind of help in Google or ringing up a help-line. This is the "dynamic" aspect of my new phrase. Take Blackberry over the month or so, they with a glaring lack of social impetus were very slow and not very forthcoming with information regarding their outage, people revolted against them and many of them got direct answers to their problems, chances are Google wouldn't be able to return the information they were actually looking for, because it was too fresh for the web. It boils down to this; Twitter provides that capability that Google simply can't, real life interactions. Google is a super sophisticated algorithm that decides what you're looking for. Twitter is a person at a desk, on a mobile device thinking and responding to your gripe, query, statement or praise. Its answers at a micro level, a response to your exact query or request, not a generalised page that may cover your query to some degree. That's what makes Twitter dynamic in its search capability. You bypass the call assistant who doesn't really care about your problem and speak to somebody who does, after all it's their job to keep you happy and build their brand up. But Twitter isn't just about complaining! There are a volley of tweets every second, some jovial yes, but many inquisitive or specialist in their nature. People in these social spheres live in the present. A new API comes out, people are blogging & commenting about it, people are also asking questions about it, why? Because, they get real time responses from real people, who know what they're talking about and probably wouldn't have replied if they didn't have something constructive to say. All this happens usually before a page is indexed in a search platform, they come in the following days and weeks.
So in short, my opinion is that Twitter is a search engine (of sorts). Not in the stereotypical way people perceive search engines though. It's a search engine that sits at the core of this social sphere we now find ourselves in. It's reactive, concise, helpful and personable.
Really glad we hired you to create our website, we're over the moon with everything you've done for us! - Daniel Parks