Twitter’s Killer Feature

Despite the attention that Twitter has garnered of late many netizens have yet to find a compelling reason to become part of the Twitter community. Many users have yet to find the killer feature of Twitter that will cause the proverbial light bulb to go off.

I was in the office today and ended up having a conversation about Twitter. I work with very intelligent engineers (geeks) but I’m the sole advocate of social media. The conversation begin with the ultimate Twitter question, “What is Twitter?” As I began to explain the nature of a broadcast communication network complete with @replies and #hashtags I was met with mild interest. After a few more follow up questions the general consensus leaned toward an ambivalent “that’s cool” but without anyone finding a reason to participate. Until… I revealed Twitter’s killer feature.

Allow me to ask the same question that I asked in the previous post, “What do you do when you don’t know something?” You Google it right? We naturally turn to the mighty indexer of the web and usually find our answers in its offered results. BUT, what if the information you are looking for has only been available for 10 minutes? Alas you have found Google’s blind spot. A search engine can only produce results after it has indexed a webpage and that takes time. What you need is the ability to look for information in a close to real time.

Welcome to Twitter’s Killer Feature, “Real-Time” Search.

If you are looking for information concerning a very recent or ongoing event you need to tap into a data stream that allows you to step closer to real time reporting and Twitter provides the precise ability. Whether you are gathering info on a talk at SXSW or watching news about a plane crash in the Hudson River Search.Twitter.com is the only place turn. Sure there are a myriad of news sites that report breaking news but any Twitter user will tell you that they are informed about earthquakes, plane crashes, and conference happenings long before mainstream media picks up the story. (Long is obviously relative, it may be 20 minutes to a couple of hours lead time but it is still significant). Twitter transports you to the edge of real time as you watch other users add content and context in relation to whatever event you are watching.

As I began to tell my colleagues about trending topics and searching ability I discover that they are having their Aha! moment. They found the feature that draws them to an interactive Twitter community.

So whether you are watching breaking news, looking for the release of the latest software version, or virtually attending a conference Twitter’s real time search is a wealth of information that the rest of the world won’t see for another half hour. So Turn on, tune in, and watch the events of the world as they happen.

Addendum: There are seem really great websites and tools that significantly enhance this search ability. I’d recommend checking out TweetGrid.com and Monitter.com. Both websites offer the ability to perform multiple real-time searches. Tweetgrid is a bit easier to follow but Monitter allows you to filter based on location. If you prefer applications give Tweetdeck a spin. You can add a search column by clicking the magnifying glass. Don’t forget that you can also get RSS feeds based on twitter searches from search.twitter.com.

Happy Tweeting (find me on Twitter @tsudo)

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