You may have noticed that Twitter is rolling out its integrated search and trends into the web platform tonight. They had been testing it with select users, and the test must have worked because it is being installed everywhere. Although Twitter purchased Summize last summer, it has been keeping search and trends separate from the messaging platform until now. You can learn more about the integrated search rollout on ReadWriteWeb and Mashable. Although many experienced users depend on desktop clients like Tweetdeck and Twhirl, newcomers are focused exclusively on the web. And all of Twitter’s recent efforts have been focused on newcomers.
Ok, it’s about time, but what’s the big deal? I think Twitter is getting very close to announcing their monetization plans and they are focused on search. Here’s what’s been happening over the last few months:
- Twitter introduced Suggested users as part of search a few months ago and filled the list with high profile users like Al Gore, CNN Breaking News and Coldplay. Trying to make it easier for new users to learn Twitter and follow the cool kids.
- Celebrities have been joining Twitter in droves. You’ve seen all the names, Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore, John Mayer, Shaquille O’Neal, Tony Hawk, Lance Armstrong, Martha Stewart, etc. You may have even noticed Twitter CEO Evan Williams helping some of them get Twitter as shown below.
- Integrated search has been dumbed down and made easier to use. No advance features. You still must go to Search to use those.
Even though Twitter is one of the largest social networks and grew 813% last year as reported by Compete, it is still fairly niche. Twitter is now ready to go mainstream and all of these efforts are in support of that. Mainstream users are joining because Twitter is hot and the attraction to see celebrity’s inner most and even mundane thoughts is huge. The goal of these efforts is to build Twitter’s user base and volume.
I believe that once the number of users hits a certain threshold, we will see Twitter start to monetize search. Twitter’s real time conversational search data is hot and companies will be willing to pay for it. How they go to market, I’m not quite sure, but the plan is imminent.
Final thoughts and questions
Do you think search is the holy grail for Twitter? Are they finally ready to roll out the revenue plan? What do you think a revenue plan around search will look like? Subscription based API/ fire hose access? Monthly fees to use Search.twitter.com? Something else?
These popular blogs also talk about the impact of search on Twitter’s revenue model: