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.


Twitter can help you broadcast important news

Last Friday afternoon, hundreds of people used Twitter to report on the severe storm in Middle Tennessee:

3429072089_d4a56a34d4_o#mboro – tornado touchdown on broad at 840. take cover.

Reported Tornado Touchdown in Murfreesboro, TN

Emergency services are responding to reports that people are trapped in Murfreesboro, Tenn. after tornado hits; homes destroyed.

The Carpenter’s House church in Murfreesboro is open as a shelter for those affected by the storm.

Thompson lane and Murfreesboro road area is shut down to all traffic

Yeah, there’s a LOT of damage in Murfreesboro, where i live…massive tornadoes here…but me and my family are safe 🙂

If you are in or around Murfreesboro, please stay off cell phones. Cell towers taken out and police need the lines.

My dad says his house in Murfreesboro is ok! Thank goodness.

Heard about the tornados in Tennessee. Are you safe?

Yep. I’m good.

Just heard from in-laws who live in Murfreesboro that it looks like they came through the storms without damage.

Glad to hear all my #murfreesboro bandmates and friends are ok after the #tornado

In emergency situations, getting the word out quickly is paramount. After the storm, the first concern is letting everyone know that you’re safe. Cellphones make this an easy task, but you have to make calls to a lot of people. Meanwhile, your friends and family are all frantically dialing all the same people. This is not ideal for keeping emergency communications channels open for rescue workers.

Twitter, makes spreading the news much quicker. One tweet from your cell phone can let all of your friends know if you’re okay. In turn, your friends can retweet your news to further spread the word among your peers. This frees up the communication channels and allows you to reach more people with one text.

Another unique thing happened: Twitter connected the online community to the event as it occurred. Eyewitnesses, local residents, media, and weather agencies, were tweeting information, pictures, and links. Twitter satisfies your curiosity to know what is happening. And it allows you to leverage the power of many people to find the information you need during and after an emergency.

What do you think? Do you see a future with this kind of communication?