I have mentioned social media sensation Twitter, originally billed as a so-called "micro-blogging" service, in a number of posts over the last year, and by now there is almost no way that you haven’t heard one of its seemingly nightly mentions in the mainstream media.

If you’re not on Twitter yet, you should be, if only to see what’s going on, and to grab any usernames (for your own name, your company, and your products/brands) that may still be available before someone else does.

(If you are completely new to Twitter, first watch this brief video, and click though this presentation slide deck.)

Even if you decide that you don’t have the time to invest in maintaining an active profile on Twitter, you should at an absolute minimum understand that the new "real-time Web" that is emerging due to Twitter’s popularity is changing the game in many ways:

Not only is it causing redesign changes and opening-up at Twitter’s rival social media services such as FriendFeed and Facebook. Search of Twitter’s massive real-time stream of "Tweets" (the micro-messages that users send to their follower lists), is now being called "the pulse of this society" by wine merchant turned Social Media guru Gary Vaynerchuck. And I would agree:

Should you know what 10 14 Million people (yes, it grew by nearly 50% in the last month), many of them sought-after influencers and early-adopters are saying about you, your company, your brands, your products, your market, and your business’ target keywords on Twitter?

Of course you should. Twitter’s recent geometric growth proves that it is finding itself right at the inflection point from early to mainstream adoption in these last few months. And therefore searching at Seach.twitter.com has become an absolute goldmine of marketing relevant information, one that must almost be considered indispensable at this point:

So much so that there has been much rumor and speculation lately regarding a possible acquisition of Twitter by either Google or Microsoft. In Google’s case, it would be mainly a way to preempt Microsoft or other competitors from disrupting its search dominance. In fact, I have recently argued that acquiring Twitter may well be Microsoft’s last best hope at getting back into the search game in earnest.

This is because Twitter’s so-called Timeline makes its search results extremely, well, timely and time-bound, unlike Google’s and other search engine’s authority models that can feel stale in comparison to Twitter in many circumstances (and don’t allow for a clear sorting by recency of e.g. the 1,000 top results).

A good recent example were searches for SXSW Interactive Convention  panel attendee notes: The results via Search.twitter.com taken from Twitter’s Timeline are much fresher & more pertinent, especially during and right after the conference (one caveat is that Twitter will currently at times cut off backwards results beyond 7 days, apparently due to server load issues).

Google on the other hand will serve up mostly results from SXSWi 2008, 2007, asf. due to its authority model (the pages obviously had much longer to gather links from everywhere on the net, through blog post mentions, social bookmarking, etc.).

So again, one could easily see how Google simply cannot afford to let anyone else walk away with this whole new category/aspect of "real-time Web" search, which in itself has a strong component of recommendation filtering: Twitter users mostly only pass on those items and links that they feel would add value to their followers.

That’s because in a sense their reputation is on the line with every tweet they post. They know that almost instantaneously dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of people might hold them accountable if they send them garbage. Compare that to Google, where the ever-evolving practices of search engine optimization (SEO) have already greatly distorted the results that Google will spit out for most commercially relevant keywords.

In a way, Twitter is succeeding, to some extent by seeming accident, at crowd-sourced search models where the likes of Jason Kalakanis’ Mahalo and recently Wikia Search (started by Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales) have failed, largely because they could never get enough users and user buy-in to scour enough content. On Twitter, content recommendation happens naturally, as a side-effect of the ongoing conversations or (more or less helpful) "stream of consciousness broadcasting" (sometimes referred to as "life casting").

And incidentally, each tweet containing a link to further content tends to also have a good amount of semantic/meta-data accompanying that link, without much of the nuisance of formal methods such as tagging, because the descriptors are added naturally as I already mentioned.

Are you beginning to see why Twitter is so special? Why you should start running searches at Search.twitter.com today if you haven’t done so up to this point? Go do it, right now. Go there and input queries for your most important keywords.

As gary Vaynerchuck says, (rough quote) "if your business is selling soup, you should go there and monitor the pulse of soup in society"…

 

(A follow-up post "10 Deep Points About Twitter" is on its way, stay tuned…)