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Posts tagged with: twitter

Twitter Analytics – Analytic.ly

analytic.ly PeopleBrowsr, a company that conducts social search, brand engagement and data analysis of social networks has recently released a new tool – called Analytic.ly. The company believes that this tool will be beneficial for both its developers and users.

What is Analytic.ly?

So, what does this tool do? For a start, it shows Twitter conversations – that is, tweets – from users across the world. However, the conversations is not presented in the conventional “raw” form. Instead, PeopleBrowsr shows them in custom graphs as well as fancy reports. These tweets will also be stored as well as indexed. The purpose of this is to help professional and other researchers in getting both historical as well as current data related to their topics.

twitter analytics for brand

The new interface is also very user friendly. Most users will find it extremely easy to search through the twitter conversations. For those users who subscribe to the premium features, PeopleBrowsr will also provide a multi-feature dashboard that is going to take the experience of research to a new level. However, subscription is not free; it costs at least $20 every month. The price increases with the number of features subscribed.

So far, Analytic.ly represents the most developed application designed for analyzing the information available through tweets. The competitive advantage of Analytic.ly is the high number of features it provides. This makes it possible for users to quickly find and record information on how users of Twitter perceive current events and brands. On the other hand, brands can find which users like their brands the most, and which users influence other users about their brands.

However, the benefits of Analytic.ly are not limited to its users only. The developers will have access to the data and tweets of almost a year. This makes it possible for them to keep track of new applications, products and services. In addition, they can know the keywords which are currently popular among users.

twitter analytics

Bing Now Pull Links from Twitter

Bing is planning to incorporate Twitter updates with its search results. It is currently testing the idea with a select group of users of Bing. These users reported that they are getting Twitter messages along with the results from their search queries. This week, Bing formally announced about its plan to integrate Twitter into its search results. Bing has also shared some details on how it is going to work.

The function of the Twitter integration is actually two-fold. First of all, Bing will try to include “hot/trending” issues related to the search queries. In this case, the tweets received from Twitter will best serve the purpose. The tweets will also be clearly distinguished from normal search results since they would appear under the heading called “Social results about…”.


Secondly, Bing will also try to keep its users updated with the most popular links using Twitter data to show you the most popular shared links for navigational queries. So if you’re looking for the most popular celebrity news on TMZ, Bing will show you which links people are sharing the most on Twitter.

bing search within sites

Bing will make the Twitter integration available to all users in the U.S. as soon as the test is over. Bing and Google are both trying to include Twitter – as much as they can – in their search results. For instance, Twitter “smart answers” – which show tweets from famous users of Twitter – are available on Bing. The site also offers a search interface (bing.com/twitter) that shows results from only Twitter. On the other hand, real-time “tweets” are shown every time a user sends a search query on Google.

The situation clearly demonstrates the fierce competition between Bing and Google, both of which are integrating Twitter to improve their real-time search results.

My Thoughts on Twitter @Anywhere

In the recent South by Southwest (SXSW) conference, every single soul was expecting the twitter CEO Evan Williams to finally stand up and announce Twitter’s business plan and how they plan to monetize this sleeping monster with such a big user base and mainstream adaption.

But instead, @ev threw a brand new thing to the crowed called – @anywhere (“AT ANYWHERE”). Now what is this @Anywhere? Well I can hardly tell you much about it as twitter themselves didn’t reveal much about the service other than a very vague intro and some logos of partners who are already on board with this brand new feature of twitter.

twitter-at-anywhere (@anywhere)

What is Twitter @Anywhere?

Twitter @Anywhere is basically a platform that hopes to bring the functionality of twitter on different websites & portal rather then keeping them all confined in one place (Twitter homepage). You can compare this with what Facebook has already done with Facebook connect. Basically facebook connect allows developers to build community around their websites by seamlessly integrating Facebook using the facebook API and leveraging the 400 million users base that Facebook already has. But integrating Facebook connect does require a bit of technical skills and its not everyone’s cup of tea.

However, it seems like Twitter @Anywhere would be very easy to implement. You don’t have to be a developer or need to work with APIs to make it work. They clearly mentioned on their post that Twitter @Anywhere will work by simply throwing in few lines of JavaScript on your website. So sounds like this is going to be more like an embedded object (like the Facebook Fanbox Widget) that will probably be located at the end of articles/blogpost or can even be at the side bar. Using this object, site visitors will be able to follow you or your brand, write a comment about your site or an article, and participate in discussions with other readers. Whatever interaction your readers perform via Twitter @Anywhere, will obviously go back to twitter thus creating possibility of your content to be exposed to a much larger audience.

Twitter Co-founder Biz Stone writes:

Imagine being able to follow a New York Times journalist directly from her byline, tweet about a video without leaving YouTube, and discover new Twitter accounts while visiting the Yahoo! home page—and that’s just the beginning. Twitter has proven to be compelling in a variety of ways. With @anywhere, web site owners and operators will be able to offer visitors more.

So what do you think of Twitter @Anywhere? I know this isn’t a new concept, however I don’t see any reason for anybody to NOT use it.

BREAKING: Google Launching Facebook/Twitter Killer

Update: Google Buzz Has Launched!

gmail status updater - Google's Attempt to Kill Facebook/Twitter It looks like Google is going after the social media space and launching something brand new tomorrow! Can this be a possible twitter / facebook killer? We all just have to wait until tomorrow to find out!

For now, all we know is tomorrow Google will launch a brand new social feature for Gmail that is likely to allow users to make ‘status updates’ which is a very common thing for people to do on both twitter & facebook. However, unless Google really innovates here, or somehow manages to integrate their social stream with Facebook or Twitter, I don’t really see Google catching up with these big guys anytime soon.

Like Nicholas Carlson says, Google has never really been good with consumer products. In fact Google’s universe is all surrounded by their search product. All the other products that they tried to release such as Social Network – Orkut, Google Video, Gmail never really became mainstream.

But I have to say – they tried, they tried hard! Google made a lot of expensive acquisitions to acquire the user base/technologies of sites that they figured would help them to take a new product mainstream. They acquired Youtube (Video Site), Jaiku (Micro-blogging service), Picasa (Photo sharing), Zingku and many others. A complete list of Google’s acquisitions to date are here. Out of all these products, only Youtube sort of went mainstream in the video space, other than that most of the other services they they have acquired didn’t go anywhere.

So it would be really interesting how they are going to compete with the two social messaging giants – Twitter & Facebook. Facebook is now beyond acquisition as they have become way too big and they are also sort of tied up with Microsoft from the beginning. Twitter on the other hand was rumored to be acquired by Google for some time, but looks like thats not happening too!

John Battelle writes:

Google is simply not understood by consumers to be a place where they can connect with friends and colleagues. If it intends to become that, it has some DNA mutation in its future.

This one is indeed going to be very interesting…


Mashable reports that they have received an invite to the Google HQ for tomorrow where Google is supposedly going to unveil some product innovations in two of it’s most popular products. The event begins at 10:00 a.m. PT tomorrow and honestly i can’t wait to hear what Google plans to announce!

Bloggers Reaction around the Web

Google To Unveil Broad New Social Product Tomorrow – Techcrunch

Google’s ‘Social’ Gmail: Could It Really Work? – PC World

Google to make Gmail a little more social – Cnet

Report: GMail to Add Twitter-esque Feature – Search Engine Watch

Google to Introduce a Twitter/Friendfeed Like Feature for Gmail – The Next Web

Google’s Social Push Accelerates Tomorrow With Gmail Social Stream – Social Times

Google Stream? Google will launch “huge” new social features tomorrow – Download Squad

Google to Add Social Features to Gmail – NY Times

Gmail to Get Social News Feed: Report – GigaOm

Google Going Social…Again? Gmail to Add Streaming Updates – Search Engine Journal

Follow the conversation further on techmeme!

Facebook Launches Their Version of Retweet

Facebook is currently testing out a new feature that pretty much has the same functionality as Twitter’s retweet option. B asically when you find something cool that your friend posted under his profile, you can share it with your circle of friends by ‘reposting it’ using the share button. But previously it never gave credit to the original poster, but with facebook’s recent implementation, all shares now show a “via @username” (where the username is the name of the original poster). Isn’t that roughly how the twitter “re-tweet” works?


[Credit: AllFacebook]

It seems like this new feature is live for everyone. To try it, just go to a friend’s posted item in your news feed and then click “share,” and you’ll see a “via [your friend’s name]” (with an option to remove it of course). Once shared, the item will appear on your profile, with a via link that points to your friend’s profile as well. Your friends will also see the item in their own News Feeds, thus spreading it even more (just like Twitter’s retweet).

From what I can tell so far this feature only works for posted items/links – you can’t “via” someone else’s status update or photo (as yet). So next time you see something shared on facebook, you are likely know its source.

Twi.tt Lets you Share Almost Everything on Twitter

twi.tt - Share documents, pictures, video, audio, poll on Twitter

Sometimes I feel that there are just way too many applications and services surrounding twitter, but hay – if they are cool and useful I love to plug them and share it with everyone.

Today I stumbled upon Twi.tt – A new web service that lets you SHARE almost anything on twitter.

Share Stuffs on Twitter using Twi.tt

As you can see, by anything I mean absolutely ‘everything’ from pictures, videos, audio, poll and even documents! There is no sign up necessary, if you have a twitter account then you should be able to login with your twitter credentials and use their service.

The best thing about this service is, they allow multiple ways for you to give them the content that you wish to share. For instance, for image sharing they allow you to upload an image directly from your computer, from a web url, from your webcam (coming soon) & also via email (coming soon). Similarly for Audio, you can upload it as an audio file or record directly from your microphone (coming soon).

The only thing that I feel is missing from their service is the basic url shortening. Twi.tt is a great domain, so adding a url shortening service with stats (like bit.ly and su.pr) would be a great addition.

On their settings page they mentions that soon users will be able to send their media files from any email client & mobile phone that supports email.

So try Twi.tt and let me know if you like it!

BingTweets – Real Time Twitter + Bing Search

Bing along with Federated Media has developed quite a nifty service called BingTweets, which basically allows you to keep an eye on the twitter trending topic in a more detailed and real-time manner. Twitter trending topic by itself is not exactly very useful as it doesn’t really give you a context of what is happening. Moreover even though twitter’s built in search is ‘real-time’ but users always need to click a ‘button’ when new results are added.


BingTweets does a really good job of bring real-time conversations about the trending topics and at the same time bringing up the web search of that particular query on the same screen. Thus users will get a context of what these trending topics are and at the same time get more real insights on some of these topics. Because the fact is 140 characters isn’t enough to convey a full news to someone, however if people starts talking about “X” and it becomes a trending topic, then clicking on that will not only show you the conversation that is happening about X but at the same time give us some real insights from the Bing search results for that particular query.

One of the neat thing about BingTweets is, it pulls in trends from Twitter and automatically filters into categories such as “Popular Now,” “People,” “Places” and “Products” enabling easier navigation of the ever changing trends on the Web. You can also fire off a search on any topic of your choosing to see the related search results from Bing and Twitter discussion.

Whitney Burk, Director of Bing Search writes:

…when Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince comes out tomorrow, you may want to scan the official reviews, local theater listing, AND the latest Tweets on the movie to help you decide whether to rush to see it. With BingTweets, you can cover all that ground in one place.

So check out BingTweets and let me know if you find it any useful!

Read what other says about BingTweet:

Federated Media Teams With Bing For BingTweets. It’s Exactly What It Sounds Like – Techcrunch.

BingTweets: Bing + Twitter Search Results Side-by-Side – Mashable

BingTweets Integrates Twitter and Bing Search, Literally – Search Engine Journal

Do more with Twitter Favorites using Favstar.fm

favstar. fm - Twitter Favorites

Twitter always had a functionality to mark a tweet as “favorite”. However, I personally never even bothered to use it that often because it just didn’t have any good use. I only used it more like a “tweet bookmark” tool to save certain tweets which I wanted to come back to later.

But it looks like that Favstar.fm is going to change the way Tweet Favorite is being used. Favstar is looking at twitter favorites more like a social vote. So basically their main home page currently shows tweets that has been voted (a.k.a favorite’ed) a certain number of times. If you sign in via your Twittter login information, favstar also gives you a whole range of functionality, including the ability to follow people from directly from Favstar.fm and see what tweets your friends are favoriting. Also, by signing in it is very easy to see who is favoriting your tweets which in my opinion is an excellent insight for any twitter user.


Apparently there is another service called Favard that does something similar.

(via Techcrunch)

4 Tools for Finding Photos on Twitter

If you love images then you would appreciate some of the tools that I’m going to cover here that lets you search and view images from twitter. There are plenty of tools out there that lets you search twitter for text and hashtags. But twitter is now a huge source of pictures as well and sadly there aren’t that many tools out there that lets you search for images on twitter.

After a little digging i found four Twitter Image Search engines that does a really good job of indexing and displaying all the photos on twitter. But before I go any further I must warn you that the content that you will see on these photo search engines are all ‘user generated content’ and not moderated by anybody. Thus, you might come across pictures that are potentially dangerous for you and your children.

1. Twipho – Twitter Photo Search


Twipho is a relatively new twitter photo search engine developed by Mark Goddard. It has a very simple and straight forward interface that lets you search for pictures on twitter. Simply pop in your search query into the box at the top of the page and wait for your results. No need to press any buttons or hit the enter key. Twipho starts piling up images within seconds of you typing something on the search box. You can also change various search parameters such as image host selections. Twipho also gives you the ability to send images to your friends using email, retweet the images you like the most and view full size images as well as quick thumbnails. Take a look at their results page:

twitpho-results - Twitter image search engine

2. Picfog – Realtime Twitter Image Search

Pic Fog - Real Time Twitter Image Search Engine

Picfog is a real time twitter image search engine, which keeps on popping images on the screen in real time as they get tweeted on twitter. Every second 5-10 new pictures gets added and shown in real time on the home screen. It has also a search box where you can specify keywords to make it only show pictures related to that word/phrase. If you move your mouse over in any of the images it shows you the complete tweet along with any message/text that was included originally. Picfog also gives you the ability to follow that particular user or Re-tweet the image to your own followers. Here is a screen shot of how the home screen looks like:

Pic Fog Screen shoot - Twitter Picture Search Engine

3. Twicsy – Top Twitter Pics of Past Hour

twicsy - Top Twitter Pictures of Past Hour

Twicsy is a twitter picture search engine that particularly shows you the top twitter images of the past 1 hour. They also have options to show you top pictures of – 2 hours, 4 hours, 12 hours, day and week. Basically they keep count of how many times a picture gets re-tweeted to determine the popularity of an image. Twicsy lets you see who has re-tweeted the images and also lets you do the same. Here is a screen shot of how their homepage looks like:

Twicsy Image Search Engine

4. Twitcaps – Real-time Pictures From Twitter

twitcaps - twitter image search

Twitcaps is yet another real-time image search engine for twitter. Twitcaps allows you to search, browse and capture the latest images posted to Twitter via any of the popular Twitter image services (Twitpic, yFrog, Twitgoo, etc). From the Twitcaps interface, you may capture an image for later use, re-tweet the image on your own Twitter feed, or share the image on any number of social linking services. The feature of letting user “capture a picture” is something that I haven’t found in the other twitter image search engines. Basically capture in this context means that – while browsing images on Twitcaps, if you come across a picture that you really like, you can capture the image and save it under your own twitpic service. This means that if the user who originally posted their image should later decide to delete that image, then you will STILL have your copy of that image available to your Twitter account on both Twitcaps and Twitpic.com. This way, you can feel safe in re-tweeting the image or posting the image to any number of social linking services. Because you now control the image, you can be confident that the image will not disappear and the link to that image will never go away (until you delete it from Twitpic.com).

Twitcaps also has some advanced image filtering options. You may filter image by image host (e.g. Twitpic, flickr etc.) or you can also filter by language. Twitcaps also has a built in translation functionality that will help you to translate tweets on the fly. Here is a screen shoot of their home page:

twitcaps - real time twitter picture search

So did I miss any other cool twitter image search engine? Let me know via comments!

Here are some of the other reviews of these four Twitter Image Search Engines:

TwiPho Your Ultimate Twitter Image Search – Blogging Tips

TwiPho – twitter image search with a nice UI! – Twi5.com

PicFog Displays the Strength of Real-Time Image Search – Mashable

PicFog: Search For Images Shared On Twitter – MakeUseOf.com

Twicsy Is A Killer And Kind Of Creepy Way To Search Pictures Shared On Twitter – Techcrunch

Twicsy.com – Search Pictures Shared On Twitter – KillerStartups

Twitcaps – see what photos are being shared on Twitter – DownloadSquad

TwitCaps: Watch the World in Images, Real-Time! – Tnerd

Official Google Twitter Accounts


Everyone loves twitter and it seems like Google as a company is not an exception on this case. Earlier today Google posted a list of all their official twitter accounts.

Karen Wickre who is from Google’s Blog & Twitter Team writes:

Like lots of you, we’ve been drawn into Twitter this year. After all, we’re all about frequent updates ourselves, and there’s lots happening around here that we want to share with you. Of course, we enjoy watching, and contributing to, the tweetstream (we hope you find our tweets useful, too). Because there are many programs and initiatives across the company, we’ve got a number of active accounts. Here’s a list of the current ones. We’ll update this list from time to time.

Here is a screen shot of the list since it was last updated:

Official Google Twitter Accounts

I initially counted a total of 44 twitter accounts on that list, but according to Techcrunch, Google may have missed one of their own account from the region list. So that makes the total account 45!

Its really great to see that a company of Google’s size is open to change and adapting new (3rd party services). I mean just think about it, they are one of the biggest media company out there, why should they even care about monitoring and contributing to the twitter space?

Twitter has millions of users now, and its growing at a rapid rate. I think its really important for the companies to realize the importance of establishing a relationship with their customers. Undoubtedly twitter really makes this process very easy. Hopefully we will see more and more companies using twitter effectively in the near future.

Twittorati – The Technorati of Twitter

If you are a hard core twitter user then you will love Twittorati, which is a brand new site from the popular media search engine Technorati.

According to Techcrunch’s report, Twittorati pulls in the Tweets published by bloggers from Technorati’s list of Top 100 Blogs, which is basically determined by Technorati’s Authority Ranking. Authority Ranking is calculated via algorithm of inbound links from other blog posts, and weights those based on timing, relevancy and the inbound link’s site source Authority Ranking.


On the home page, they currently have 4 main section to show the most popular links that bloggers link to, the most popular photos, the most recent tweets by the top 100 bloggers and also the top 100 blogs with all the authors twitter profile. If you are looking to follow bloggers from the Internet’s most influential blogs then you should head over to this page.

The twitter feed on their home page, which shows the most recent tweets of the top 100 blogs can be sorted by authority as well as by most recent tweets. Clicking on the name of any of the top blogs in the sidebar nicely groups all the tweets from the authors of that particular blog.

Even though Twittorati is nothing ground breaking, but I think its a decent tool to keep your tabs on the tech industry. You can follow Twittorati on Twitter: http://twitter.com/twittoratinews

Twitter Launches Verified Accounts

twitter-verified-accountNot long after twitter’s recent announcement about account verification system to stop impersonation, they released what they are calling “Verified Account“.

For instance, if you check out Ashton Kutcher’s twitter page, you will notice he has a verified account logo appearing on the right hand side of the page.


Twitter writes:

With this feature, you can easily see which accounts we know are ‘real’ and authentic. That means we’ve been in contact with the person or entity the account is representing and verified that it is approved. (This does not mean we have verified who, exactly, is writing the tweets.)
This also does not mean that accounts without the ‘Verified Account’ badge are fake. The vast majority of accounts on the system are not impersonators, and we don’t have the ability to check 100% of them. For now, we’ve only verified a handful of accounts to help with cases of mistaken identity or impersonation.

How to Become Verified on Twitter

Currently twitter has started implementing this feature with well-known accounts that have had problems with impersonation or identity confusion. (For example, well-known artists, athletes, actors, public officials, and public agencies). However they said that they may verify more accounts in the future, but because of the cost and time required they are only testing this out with a small set of folks for the time being. So hopefully as time progresses they may role this out to more accounts over the next several months.

However if your account is constantly competing with parody or impersonation accounts you can fill out the twitter feedback form so that twitter can know your situation. One thing you can do right away is to provide a link to your official website containing the Twitter badge or logo linking back to your twitter profile.

Check out other related posts about Twitter Verified accounts:

Twitter Launches Verified Accounts – Mashable

Twitter Starts Verifying Accounts Without Actually Verifying Them – TechCrunch

Twitter finally verifies verified accounts rumor – DownloadSquad

Twitter Finally Launches Verified Accounts – WebProNews

Twitter begins roll out of verified accounts – The Next Web

Track more sources via Techmeme.

Track Twitter ReTweets

repeets-Twitter-retweets If you are using twitter, then you must be already familiar with the concept of ‘re-tweeting’. It basically uses the same concept of “forwarding”. When you come across a cool Email or SMS, you may often press the forward button to pass it on to your friends. So basically for tweets this forward function is often referred as ‘re-tweets’!

So How do I Forward a Tweet (a.k.a ReTweet)

Ben Par of Mashable has an amazing writeup on this topic. However, I’d just like to briefly touch on this re-tweet function of twitter as well.

Follow these steps to re-tweet:

If you receive a tweet say from @sparklette saying: Download Coldplay’s entire new album free! http://is.gd/Av1e (P.S. It’s legal too!)

Simply add “RT” infront of the persons name along with the same message and send! So it may look like the following:

RT @sparklette – Download Coldplay’s entire new album free! http://is.gd/Av1e (P.S. It’s legal too!)

How to track twitter ReTweets

Since people usually ReTweet the good stuffs that floats around twitter, it is sometimes a nice practice to track what other people are Retweeting. There are few good sites which actually lets you keep track of those ReTweets. But the one i recently came across is called – Repeets.

Repeets basically tracks all the hot retweets from today, this week and also this month. It also captures all the retweets in a thread and produces trend graphs showing what time a retweet peaked and so on.


The feature that I liked the most about Repeets is the ability to search by username and see how many times a user’s Tweets have been RT’ed, along with a roundup of their most retweeted content. This is really useful if you are doing some research on the twitter power players.

Not happy with repeets, you can try an alternative – TweetMeme. Don’t forget to follow me – @saadkamal in twitter!

Twitter Phishing Scam – Protect your Account

Chris Pirillo pointed out a Twitter Phishing Scam that is spreading pretty fast in the tweetosphere.

Its nothing but an old phishing trick – You will probably get a DM that says “Check this cool website…” along with a link. Now when you click that the link redirects to this website: http://twitter.access-logins.com/login/. (Please Don’t click!).


And as usual, the page is a dot-to-dot copy of the twitter homepage apart from the fact that when you will give away your Twitter credentials, instead of sending them to the twitter’s authorization server – it will simply record down your password and use it later to do ‘evil’ things. (E.g. Send out spam to all your followers, send mass advertisements etc.)

How to Protect Yourself From Such Phishing Attack?

  • Never give out your credentials on a unknown website. When you are writing your password, keep an eye at the address bar. Make sure the domain is “Twitter.com” in the end and nothing else!
  • Only follow links from people that you trust.
  • Don’t follow unnecessary people. Twitter is a very useful service, but it loses its usefulness if you start following back every single one who follows you.
  • Always use the latest browser version. For instance, I’m using the latest Firefox & Chrome
  • Try to keep your browser security tight! For instance, I couldn’t even go to that phishing site because firefox won’t let me! It shows a big warning notice — “Reported Web Forgery”.


    Firefox has this option pre-enabled on install. You can manually enable it from Tools>Options>Security Tab and Check the box – “Tell me if the site I’m visiting is a suspected forgery”

Update: After many technology blogs started blogging about the issue, twitter has updated their own blog with a warning about this and also included a special warning note on the home page.


Share this with your friends and other twitter user! Follow me on Twitter to stay up-to-date with all the latest news.

Use of Twitter in an Information Retrieval System

Firstly, A Happy New Year to all my readers! I have been a bit slow with blogging lately because of the tremendous pressure with work & my postgraduate research. But anyway, since Xmas & New Year is over I’m back in my serious business – Blogging!

twitter for on demand information query I’m sure most of you are already using twitter as a communication medium to communicate with your friends, family, your colleagues, your online pals and it doesn’t stop there. You are also using twitter to keep track of your industry, the key people involved in the industry and companies that are important to you etc.

Nowadays every company seems to have a twitter profile with a real operator (human being) behind the scene who is communicating with customers, taking complaints, resolving existing issues and doing everything to save their online reputation. Companies are monitoring the twitter cloud for occurrences of certain keywords – company name, product name etc. and before you know it, you get a tweet from them – showing you that they exist & they care!

How thoughtful! Isn’t it? Well, that’s just the ‘social’ side of it. When a customer is talking about your company, you should be there! But is being there just enough? Let’s take a look at some of the corporate twitter accounts like dell, comcast, jetblue etc. (Courtesy of Search Engine Journal).

Below are some of the similarities I have found. If you run a business and you have a business twitter profile, than I’m sure you fall under one or more of the points below:

  • You simply broadcast whatever new happens with your company. It’s like a TV advertisement– You tweet, tweet and hope that your customer sees it.
  • You try to be interactive with your prospective customers. Whenever people talks about something that you
    sell or do – you jump right into the conversation and try to pitch your product/service.
  • You use Twitter as one of the dedicated Customer Support channel for your business. So when your customer is having a bad experience and they have shared it via twitter, you try to comfort the customer and help to resolve the issue.
  • You use twitter as a Reputation Monitoring tool. When someone talks about a bad experience with your company/product or service. You try to jump right in, showing that you care and show him a light of hope.
  • You just heard of twitter and you have opened up a profile with your company name to save it from those stupid name squatters. You are yet to think of a proper strategy to run your twitter account.
  • You are using twitter as you normally would, but you are just using your Business name and logo in the profile.

Now whichever point you business falls under, it’s really not my focus today. I’m not here to argue on which ‘strategy’ works and which doesn’t. In fact I’m not even going to touch on the ‘social’ factor that twitter possesses. Twitter is an excellent social tool on the web and this is just a fact so there is no point in talking about it over and over again, because it has already shown its significance in that area.

Can Twitter be a Medium of an Information Retrieval System?

Twitter is yet to be tested as a strong medium of an Information Retrieval System. SMS (Short Message Service) has been very popular & successful in delivering On-Demand information to customers. So for instance, if you want the latest headlines of the news, want to track your order, or want to know the exchange rate of a currency – What you usually do is simply send an SMS to a specific number (provided by the mobile operator) and you get the details instantaneously on your mobile inbox. The service is not necessarily offered by the mobile operator, in most cases it’s created & maintained by the 3rd party providers. They simply lease a pretty number (e.g. 1111, 2000, 3232 etc.) from the operator and share the profit with them as per their agreement.

Now SMS is becoming history, people are sending less ‘text’ messages and relaying more on twitter. So I am very surprised why no one is looking at the possibility that twitter can actually replace SMS in terms of On-Demand Information Retrieval & Marketing.

Here are some scenarios:

Amazon & Dell can start allowing users to track their orders via Twitter – It can be fairly simple. Customers will simply follow a specific twitter account for tracking purpose (i.e. @AmazonTrack, @DellTrack) and they can send a DM to the account with a keyword followed by their tracking number/order number etc. So something like:

DM @DellTrack Track 1033910

Then within seconds DellTrack will query a database containing the order number and DM back the customer with the details:

Order Status: 1033910 – Dispatched 19:09 – 02/01/09 (Details: http://dell.com/tracking/twitter/?o=1033910/)

Some third party service is already doing this for Postal Mail/Parcel Tracking for Fedex, UPS, USPS, and DHL etc. But why aren’t those companies doing these themselves?

Airlines can give away Flight information via Twitter – I found a few airlines on twitter – (e.g. SouthEast, American Airlines, Delta etc.) But most of them are just sticking to the social aspect of twitter. But from a customer point of view I think it would be really useful if a person could just send a tweet and know what time his flight is or from which gate its boarding etc.

So all you need is to follow their twitter account and send a “DM” which will automatically make the ‘bot’ to query the Database and send you a direct message with the details requested.

Service Industry can use Twitter for Customer Support – Whether you are a mobile operator, an ISP or a Web Hosting company, you can provide your customer with an extra channel of support via twitter.

For example, customer can be allowed to assign one twitter account with the service that they are subscribed to with your company. Let’s assume for now that it’s a hosting industry. And for those quick support queries (e.g. My Site is down, How Can I do XyZ), a customer can simply send a DM to the Support’s Twitter account (Without having to make that call or write an email). The system will automatically generate a ticket for that support request and let the user know the ticket number via DM.

Since this will be integrated with the host’s support system, so all those ‘tweets’ will actually be received by the support team via Email. They will simply respond to the email and its cut-down version will be automatically DMed to the user with a link to the full response.

Schools / Colleges can give away their Results via Twitter – A student can DM @StanfordResults with their ID & DOB and get the result of the current term.

Love Sports? Get the latest updates via Twitter – A sports freak can get the latest score of his favorite sport by simply sending a tweet.

Make a Doctor’s Appointment with Twitter – No need to make that call, just tweet and you automatically know whether your doctor is available on your chosen time-slot and then you can register yourself for an appointment – everything just using your twitter account.

Pay for your coffee via Twitter – It would be cool if you could send a DM “Pay @Starbucks48 $9.99” to @PaypalTwitter and automatically @Starbucks48’s TwitterPaypal account will be credited with that amount. This can also work for ordering pizza!

Random Ideas of some Twitter Based Information Retrieval Apps

World Time – You send a tweet to @worldtime – “time London” and the world time bot automatically returns a message to you with the current date/time in London.

Exchange Rate / Conversion – Similar to the one above – “193 USD =? AUD”.

Stock Updates – There are many people who needs to keep a sharp eye on the stock market. So if this app is developed users can just write @StockUpdate GOOG and get the latest Google stock price via twitter. They can sign-up for a auto-notification service where every hour or every day, the system can send a DM to you with the latest stock price of your preferred businesses.

Tweet Poll – I love polls and I have seen a lot of people who take polls via twitter. But I can’t imagine the trouble the host needs to go through by manually counting the ‘votes’. Why not have real tweet polls that can be automated? So you sign up with this service and create a poll, your poll question can be a True-false type (e.g. “yes/no”) type of a MCQ type (e.g. “1,2,3,4”). Users will be asked to simply tweet the poll id and the answer to the service provider, say – @Polldady. (e.g. @polldaddy QS93384 3).

The possibilities are endless. Anything that exists for Mobile devices (via SMS) can actually be upgraded and made for twitter. Since more users are going for mobile internet, and getting wifi access almost anywhere – sooner or later SMS will become a history and Twitter will be the next alternative for SMS.

What Needs to be done from here onwards?

Someone needs to build a platform that will be able to ‘host’ some of these things mentioned above in a simple manner. Since Evan Williams (CEO, Twitter) is yet to find a proper business model, I believe this is something that they should look into. Rather than charging people money for their service, they should build a platform that businesses can subscribe to facilitate these services. Because it will be impossible to do something in a large scale with their current API limit. They are in the best position to host these services on the cloud. They can even formally open up a team, to develop the ‘systems’ and integrate it with the company’s existing system so that a smooth operation can take place.

For small businesses (those who doesn’t require much customization), Twitter can have sort of an ‘Easy Wizard’ that can allow the businesses to make a basic application on the fly and pay for it as they go.

Have any ideas? Share them in comments!

Follow me (@saadkamal) on Twitter!