Twitter may be relatively new in the social networking field, but with big leaps in traffic and visits and nearly 8,000,000 visitors to the website in February, it’s certainly making a splash. With a recent site redesign that gives users easy access to information about what users are talking about and the ability to search public posts (or "tweets"), Twitter could become a barometer for what’s hot in current events and on the web.
Twitter’s big draw is allowing users to "micro blog" by publicizing what they are up to or what’s on their minds (in 140 characters or less) to the people who follow their updates. On March 5th, Twitter began testing a search box in the navigation, as well as a link for "Twitter Trends" that tells you which topics are most talked about on Twitter right now.
Twitter Trends looks at what’s being talked about right now"”in the case of this screenshot, what was being talked about on March 11th at about 11 a.m. Although this is interesting to track, I wanted to take a look at what people were actively looking for using Twitter Search, a feature launched in July 2008.
Prior to March 5th, the Search function could only be accessed by typing "search.twitter.com" into the browser, or by clicking a link at the very bottom of the page on the Twitter site. Still, popularity of this feature has been climbing steadily over the last few months, as shown in the chart below.
Those using the search function tend to be more interested in what’s hot in the technological and marketing world than the current events-oriented topics that show up in Twitter Trends. The table below shows the top search terms Twitter users have searched on since search began in July 2008.
Though Obama and iPhone make the list, the top 10 terms are dominated by individuals, companies, and unique websites that are not household names.
- Sleep.fm is a social alarm clock that allows people to set their own alarms for whatever they may need.
- Chris Knight is CEO of ezinearticles, which is a popular website on which authors can publish articles and email newsletter publishers can search a database of articles for their newsletter. Ezinearticles.com also, of course, allows anyone to go to the site and read articles of interest to them.
- TheSixtyOne is a website for music lovers, designed to allow musicians to upload their music and have thousands of listeners rate their songs.
- Gary Vaynerchuk (GaryVee) is the Director of Operations at Wine Library in Springfield, NJ, and has his own video blog in which he tastes and reviews wines.
- AJ Vaynerchuk (AJV) is the co founder (along with GaryVee) of PleaseDressMe, a t-shirt search engine which also features a t-shirt of the day.
- FollowFriday is a Twitter tag (denoted by the "#") which users can employ to promote other Twitterers by including "#followfriday" in their tweets with "the name of Twitter users [they would] like others to follow."
So what do all these top search terms have in common? They all use twitter aggressively as part of their marketing strategy. Twitter has helped connect these people and companies to a broader audience, creating buzz and curiosity about who and what they are.
The most searched top ten list is likely to change, however, if this testing of search in the navigation goes well and we see a full roll out. When a larger audience uses the search feature, we will begin to get a better picture of what interests the masses. This is definitely something I will explore after a couple of months of broader usage.
Until then, I’ll use Twitter Trends to keep track of what people are talking about"”which, as of right now (Thursday March 12th), are #unleash, Willis Tower, #sxsw, Google Voice, and Ellen.
Becky Bitzenhofer is a Senior Associate at Compete. Becky spends her time at Compete managing a data team and delivering competitive analysis to wireless clients. Before Becky joined the Compete team she was a student at the University of Vermont. Becky hopes to continue to use and improve her analysis skills, and develop new and better ways use data to improve website performance. You can find and follow Becky on Twitter under the name Beckybitz.