With Help from Media, Twitter Overtakes Google as Leading Search Engine for "Iran+Election"

Last week’s craze over Twitter and Iran was the height of media buzzdom. Democracy + social media + possible election fraud = PR Gold. The State Department asking Twitter to delay server maintenance? A former National Security Advisor honcho suggesting Twitter should get the Nobel Prize?! That’s so good, even the craziest novelist couldn’t make it up.

But what was really happening in Iran and on Twitter? Some sobering thoughts suggest that Twitter may not have been that widely embraced inside Iran. Other reports suggest that the government has been actively suppressing digital resistance.

Meanwhile, a few terrifying and sad reports have leaked out, like protest violence photos and the Neda video, displaying the immediacy and emotional impact of social media.

Outside Iran, these scant bits have whipped the disenfranchised Diaspora and simpatico millions to take to the streets and social media streams. Starved for the latest and eager to commune, they have pollinated the web with millions of bits of Iran Election information — on leading search engines, news sites, wikis, social networks, sharing services and real time search engines.

Taking a web-wide view, Compete looked at searchers on "Iran+Election" at over 25 sites like Google, the New York Times, Wikipedia, Facebook, YouTube, real-time search startup OneRiot and, of course, Twitter.

It’s no surprise that Twitter claimed 55% of searchers the week after the Election, given all the media hoopla. But note that Google was the leading search property in the days leading up to the event, the day itself and the day after. Searchers used Google to learn more about the event before it happened and Twitter to get the latest on the fallout.

As OneRiot has written about, there’s a bit of an outstanding question among Google, Twitter and others: who will win real time search?

Search doesn’t equate to media consumption. With Iran in the headlines on nytimes.com and streaming down Twitter apps as #IranElection, people don’t need to search for the latest. But many will search nonetheless, especially the highly engaged.