Twitter: The Impending Local Search Tsunami?
Last week at the Chirp conference, Twitter announced three big initiatives that have the potential to collectively rock the world of local marketing:
- Points of interest: If someone tweets from a specific place, users will be able to see the place and other tweets from the same location. Think of this like “twecking in”.
- Promoted tweets: Paid tweets that will appear at the top of Twitter’s search results for specific queries.
- Annotations: This will allow developers to “add any arbitrary metadata to any tweet in the system.”
So here are a few scenarios that I think local marketers would do well to consider and prepare for.
Twitter’s geo-location play is the Trojan Horse of local search. With Twitter’s points of interest feature, the game is finally afoot. Essentially this means that Twitter will need to create a page or profile for each local business. While it will be cool to see the Twitter stream and the accompanying links, photos, tips, reviews and other info that accompany these geo-tweets, sooner or later (methinks sooner) Twitter is going to want to add standard yellow pages listing data to these profiles to round them out and make them truly useful.
Of course these pages, like other Twitter pages, will be indexable by search engines and because of the amount of content they amass over time, they will start to command a serious presence in the SERPs (see Is Foursquare The Future of Local Search). In fact with the integration of real time results in the top search engines, Twitter pages could show up in both the real time section and the organic section for a query for a local business. Not a fun prospect for other sites that are vying for this traffic.
Promoted tweets + places of interest = yum. While Twitter has talked a lot about how Starbucks’ tweets can now show up when people search for coffee, when you mix points of interest in you now have the equivalent of a Reeses Peanut Butter Cup of local (chocolate in peanut butter, etc.). Now the local chiropractor can have a significant voice in discussions that involve his business (I can hear the reputation management consultants salivating) and he can also target geo-specific discussions about his specialty (e.g. a guy in his service area tweeting about his aching back).
Previously the only way for the chiropractor to get in on these kinds of discussions was to basically barge into them and spam. Of course, the only way for businesses to do this kind of stuff is to verify that in fact they are the business—you wouldn’t want your competitor impersonating you and buying your keywords would you? And this leads me to believe that Twitter is going to have the equivalent of Google Local Business Center’s verification process. Which again leads me to believe that Twitter is on its way to creating a local search monster. They could quickly become a significant source of accurate, up-to-date business data. And with Twitter feeding so many applications, more and more businesses are going to want to make sure they have been verified in Twitter.
Annotations are the icing on the peanut butter cup. There are all sorts of possibilities here. Twitter is currently leaving these annotations up to developers, which means they could be anything from complicated ranking scores to number of followers to “love it” or “hate it.”
The thing I find intriguing for local is that “annotations” is just a fancy word for “tags.” And in local tags can be things like “cool bar,” “best dui attorney,” etc. Now it’s unclear if these tags will start showing up on Twitter, or just on third party applications. But when I think about it, this kind of stuff starts sounding like a yellow pages on steroids.
One of the really interesting battles will be around the standardization of this taxonomy. It seems to me it might make sense for some of the larger local search companies to band together to create a oligopoly around a local search taxonomy for Twitter lest some uppity upstart define the standard, or worse, let Twitter define it when they eventually get into the taxonomy game.
So a lot of prognostication here, but I have a feeling that Twitter local is going roll over us all over the next year like a Tsunami. And I can’t wait for Facebook to finally get into the geolocation game. That will be Nutrageous.
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