This is a guest post by Evan Britton, founder of Sency.
It was recently reported that there are over 50 million updates posted to Twitter every day. In addition to Twitter, there are a slew of other social networks which enable users to post status updates, links, and information daily. All of this data that is posted is changing everyday – so most of today’s updates won’t be relevant tomorrow. However, today’s updates are certainly relevant as they can give you a window into people thoughts and opinions. A real time search engine allows you to scour all of this data to see what’s being said right now about any given topic.
When you search “Tiger Woods” on a traditional search engine, you will get results which include news stories from major media outlets, links to Wikipedia and espn.com, and Tiger’s official site which happens to be TigerWoods.com. However, a real time search on Tiger Woods will let you see what the public is saying right now about the famous golfer. This is a new type of search, one which gives you a window into the public’s thoughts – in real time.
A real time search engine should not be used for the majority of your searches. For example, if you wanted to research historical information, like to learn what year World War 2 ended; or if you wanted to find out how many games your favorite professional team won last year, a traditional search engine will get you this information. Also, if you want to find a new website – for shopping or to play video games – a traditional search engine is the way to go. Probably 80% of your searches will be better utilized on a traditional engine. However, if you want to see what people are thinking and saying, about any person, place, or thing – a real time search is the way to go. Also, when breaking news happens, a real time search can also clue you in to more information. For example, I am Philadelphia Phillies fan – and last week, Jimmy Rollins was not in the starting lineup. I wanted to find out why. A real time search showed me a status update from a fan saying that he heard on the radio that Jimmy Rollins got hurt in the pre-game warm up. That is the power of the real time web: it lets you instantly access the public’s consciousness. Two weeks ago, when San Diego and Los Angeles were shook by a 7.2 earthquake, a real time search showed you updates from people who experienced the earth quake firsthand. While a traditional search engine would show you news stories about the quake, a real time search showed you people’s comments and experiences – in real time.
There are a variety of tips which will help you dig deeper when executing a real time search to get more information. With the tons of data that exists on the real time web, it is important to have more descriptive searches so that you can get the information you are looking for. For example, instead of searching for Jimmy Rollins to find out why he was not in the starting lineup – you can search for Jimmy Rollins Lineup. This will show you any results that include all 3 keywords. Or, let’s say you wanted to see what people were saying about the recent Tiger Woods press conference. A search for Tiger Woods will show you all of the latest updates about Tiger Woods. And with millions of updates each day, you are going to get a lot of commentary that mentions Tiger Woods but not his press conference. However, if you perform a search for Tiger Woods Press Conference, you will be able to see what people are saying specifically about the press conference. Therefore, it is important to qualify your search with the keywords that you know will be in the types of status updates that you want to see.
There are a variety of tools which help you to navigate Twitter and the real time web. Sency (disclosure below) is a real time search engine which makes it easy for ay internet user to see what’s going on right now. Sency has a two tabbed approach to its search results. The first tab, which is the default tab, is titled What’s Being Said. This tab strips out all of the links, and exclusively filters its results by time. This allows the searcher to easily see what the public is saying right now, without having any potentially spammy links mixed into the results.
You can also visit TweetCloud to learn more about a given topic. By entering a keyword into TweetCloud, you’ll see all of the other keywords that are currently being mentioned alongside the keyword that you entered. The keywords which are being mentioned the most will be displayed in a larger font.
Lastly, another free tool to check out is TrendsMap. This will show you what people are saying right now in specific places across the globe. It offers a visual way to see what specific states or even countries are talking about right now.
As for the business purpose of real time searches, all of this information can certainly be used to benefit a marketing or research project. If you work in the movie business, a real time search will show you early reviews of how fans are enjoying your movie. If you work for a company that just had a Super Bowl ad, a real time search will give you a window into how people interpreted the advertisement. Moreover, whatever your brand is, it is very likely that there is chatter going on about it. And, by monitoring this chatter, you will be able to get raw feedback from current and potential customers. You can also perform a real time search to identify and potentially contact power users who talk about your product or service to wide audiences.
With tens of millions status updates posted every day, there is a wide spectrum of information that you can learn from. Plus, the information is instant, so you can potentially use this information to quickly improve on a current initiative. However, keep in mind that the real time search is about today: the archiving of old results is still in its infancy, so its important to stay on top of this information immediately after launching a new campaign or product.
For years, new search engines launched attempting to take away market share from traditional search engines. However, these search engines failed to do something different and unique, and a lot of them went belly up. However, the real time search is different; it offers a unique perspective of the internet, and internet users and marketers can benefit from this new method of searching. Also, with real time search engines, you don’t have to be a user of any social network to benefit from the data and information, so anyone can use these tools from day one. As time goes on, as more data becomes published on the real time web and the technology and archiving improves, real time search engines and tools will continue to offer more functionality and information for all internet users to benefit from.
* Disclosure: This guest post was written by Evan Britton, founder of Sency.
Tiger Woods photo by Shutterstock.
And for a bonus: SEOmoz is conducting a search engine marketing survey. If you’re in this industry in some capacity, please participate — it doesn’t take too long.