Friday, January 23, 2009

Search Insider: The Tweet Life

The Tweet Life

IT'S 2009, AND LIKE MANY of you I made several New Year's resolutions that I may or may not keep. Some of them revolve around my vices. I like to smoke. I like to sleep in to the last possible minute. I like to eat food that will kill me and I like to drive too fast. Also, I'm a complete and utter Twitter addict -- a Twaddict, if you will. All the former vices are addictions I really will try and address this year. The latter is a different story. In fact, I intend to increase my addiction to 140 character "life bytes."

Now before you get all fired up and click away to something else thinking this is just another Twitter article, at least take the time to go read about the Ketchum/Fedex debacle and heed the moral of that story. If you are interested in how Twitter is replacing search, at least for this writer, then stick around.

Twitter For Local Search

I have begun to use Twitter and other-third party Twitter tools in place of traditional search for a number of things. I was recently at Affiliate Summit West in Las Vegas. It was packed, there were multiple sessions, events and parties happening simultaneously, and it was impossible to keep track of where people where and what the hot part was. Impossible, that is, without Twitter.  I set up a custom search for #asw09 that fed all tweets regarding the conference to my iPhone in real time. Ten seconds of screen scrolling later, I knew exactly where to go and how to get there. That was the passive method -- the active mode, of course, is to tweet "Where is everybody? #asw09."

The beauty of all this is that it reaches a community that is multiple times larger than your contact list in your phone. In fact, I used Twitter for at least 50% of my digital communications at the conference.

Recently a Twitter user I follow tweeted that he was in Seattle and jonesin' for some good sushi, but it was 1 a.m. He had already exhausted Yelp trying to find an open restaurant -- but within three minutes of his tweet, he had several suggestions from locals on places to go that were still open and close to his location. Twitter trumped every single local search service that night.

Twitter For Shopping And Reviews

Last year I was speaking at in Las Vegas. I had waited too long to book my room and get the discounted conference rate. Enter or or A few combinations of hotel name plus "discount," "promotion," "code," and "sale" produced a Web promotion code that resulted in a better rate than the conference was offering.

Sure you can use Yahoo, Live, or even Google for that search -- but sifting through the results takes much longer. Twitter search is real time in reverse chronological order. You know right away how fresh that sale code is immediately. Needless to say, I check Twitter before I buy anything online these days. I also follow Twitter accounts like @delloutlet and @VirginAmerica.

Product and company reviews are also a snap to find and address what is happening today, not last month or last year. We have yet to hear of someone gaming Twitter for reviews as Belkin did when it posted a bunch of  fake 5-star reviews at Amazon this month.

Twitter For News

I used to scan headlines in an RSS reader for my news, but I haven't fired up my news reader in a long time. I simply keep Twitter open on a second monitor and from time to time scan the public timeline, so it's easy to spot breaking news very quickly. I knew about the US Airways flight landing in the Hudson within minutes. I knew that the head of Merrill Lynch spent $1.2 million decorating his office and no longer works there.

These are the things I like to know; my news is largely filtered based on the people I've chosen to follow, like @richsanchezcnn, @weridnews and @mediapost.

My name is Todd Friesen and I'm a Twaddict  -- and I'm OK with that.

Todd Friesen is the vice president of search at Position Technologies, a search marketing technology company based in Illinois. You can reach Todd at todd@positiontechnologies or @oilman on Twitter.

Search Insider for Friday, January 23, 2009:

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