Twitter Search

April 27, 2009

Say as you were returning from lunch you overhear someone mention a plane landing in the Hudson River. When you return to your computer, you might check several news websites to get a story. Or you could try a Twitter Search.

If you had done a Twitter Search in January, on the day the plane landed in the Hudson River, you would have seen a tweet by Janis Krums. He is the rescuer who posted the first picture of the accident from a cell phone on a nearby ferry boat.

Twitter Search for Breaking News

Have you ever seen four fire engines head down Broadway, then an hour later Google “fire Broadway Nashville,”  only to find that nothing? Local news sites also coming up empty? What was going on? Why can’t I find it on Google? Does this sounds familiar?

Retrieving current information on local occurrences can be challenging. Yet with so many Tweeters now reporting from their cell phones, there is a good chance that an eyewitness mentioned it on their Twitter. Twitter Search offers a way to find real-time updates on just about anything. Type in a topic and search will turn up any recent tweets with those words included.

Twitter Search helps businesses too

We saw how friends might use Twitter to make casual comments to a group. Unlike the office water cooler, Twitter comments are very public – meaning all these casual conversations can be found. Why is this useful?

Businesses can use Twitter Search to find out what people are saying about their company. Say someone tweets to their pals about the Olive Garden restaurant. Olive Garden’s management could search twitter.

  • i love olive garden now that i figured out i can get soup and not that gross salad
  • I like that Zuppa Toscana from Olive Garden myself
  • Is there really a Culinary Institute of Tuscany, like in those Olive Garden commercials?
  • Heading out to Olive Garden tonight

Some tweets give honest opinions on company issues, like menu choices or commercials. Others may be less direct, but  Olive Garden can still see who dines there. Companies would normally pay marketing firms to identify customer preferences, now Twitter offers the same data free.

Want to see what people think about your branch library? Check it out on Twitter Search. You’ll see some compliments that will make you smile. But you’ll also see some comments about what we could do better. Anything that gives such candid feedback is a good thing to watch.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it:

1. Do a Twitter Search for:

Nashville Public Library


Your branch library

2. Did you find anything? Let us know in the comments.


5 Responses to “Twitter Search”

  1. Josh@BX Says:

    This was on Yahoo today. Interesting & relevant to the discussion…
    Today’s Twitters are tomorrow’s quitters: study
    SYDNEY (Reuters) – Today’s Twitters are often tomorrow’s quitters, according to data that questions the long-term success of the latest social networking sensation used by celebrities from Oprah Winfrey to Britney Spears.

    Data from Nielsen Online, which measures Internet traffic, found that more than 60 percent of Twitter users stopped using the free social networking site a month after joining.

    “Twitter’s audience retention rate, or the percentage of a given month’s users who come back the following month, is currently about 40 percent,” David Martin, Nielsen Online’s vice president of primary research, said in a statement.

    “For most of the past 12 months, pre-Oprah, Twitter has languished below 30 percent retention.”

    San Francisco-based Twitter was created three years ago as an Internet-based service that could allow people to follow the 140-character messages or “tweets” of friends and celebrities which could be sent to computer screens or mobile devices.

    But it has enjoyed a recent explosion in popularity on the back of celebrities such as actor Ashton Kutcher and U.S. talk show host Oprah Winfrey singing its praises and sending out “tweets” which can alert readers to breaking news or the sender’s sometimes mundane activities.

    President Barack Obama used Twitter during last year’s campaign and other prominent celebrities on Twitter include basketballer Shaquille O’Neal and singers Britney Spears and Miley Cyrus.

    Twitter, as a private company, does not disclose the number of its users but according to Nielsen Online, Twitter’s website had more than 7 million unique visitors in February this year compared to 475,000 in February a year ago.

    But Martin said a retention rate of 40 percent will limit a site’s growth to a 10 percent reach figure over the longer term.

    “There simply aren’t enough new users to make up for defecting ones after a certain point,” he said in a statement.

    Martin said Facebook and MySpace, the more established social network sites, enjoyed retention rates that were twice as high and those rates only rose when they went through their explosive growth phases.

    Both currently have retention rates of about 70 percent with Facebook having about 200 million users.

    “Twitter has enjoyed a nice ride over the last few months, but it will not be able to sustain its meteoric rise without establishing a higher level of user loyalty,” said Martin.

  2. Jenny Says:

    Thanks for sharing this article – I’d seen a graph depicting this trend floating around the web today. I think the thing to pay attention to isn’t necessarily Twitter itself but the kind of communication it allows.

    It feels like this kind of communication with be around in some form or another in the future. Do you think this broadcasting type of communication will disappear or will it become more widely adopted but maybe in a different format?

    Great article for discussion. Thanks!

    • Springhill Bigfoot Says:

      Jenny’s point is the crux of the issue. Though Twitter is trending right now, and a lot of non-users will sign up and quit, that doesn’t mean that this sort of communication is going away soon.

      As I mentioned in an earlier post, Twitter really isn’t new technology. It’s just only technology packaged in a different, arguably more useful, definitely more fun way. The best way to think of it is as a social combined SMS & RSS service. Those technologies aren’t going anywhere soon unless the economy causes us to go all Mad Max on each other.

      A good example is social networks. In the future, myspace and facebook will not be the popular social networks. There will be others: Twitbook or TweetMyFace or ALA’s new one ALAConnect. Over a decade ago I was a member of a book lovers social network call the Reader’s Vine. I’ve tried to discover whatever came of it but haven’t came up with anything yet. Point is, I loved it then, and now I’m on Goodreads and I’m still loving it. And if current new reports are true middle aged women and really getting into facebook. All the teenagers are going to migrate back to Make Out Club, Who remembers Make Out Club? Oh yeah.

      Another example are ebook readers. You think there weren’t ebook readers before Kindle? Technology is a dialogue.

      The old adage is true, there are always those that are willing to try new things (even if those things are transitional), and those who are not. In the meantime I’ll be watching patrons eyes light up by answering their reference questions with my cellie via Google’s SMS serive.

      I’ve added twitter search to internet browser search bar.

      • Cook Says:

        I agree with Bigfoot. Twitter is just a brand name, the real innovation is that people are finding ways to make these existing technologies more useful.

  3. jason stepien Says:

    I found out how much people really love the library, and our special events.

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