The Impact of Real Time Search

August 20, 2009
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200908191514.jpg The social web is fundamentally about enabling conversations at scale. Those conversations are the building blocks of the new social enterprise. I was thinking about these two statements and it seems to me that one of the most critical tools for using the social web in a business is the availability of real-time search. We’re only just on the edge of starting to realize what real-time search means though.

Static search is very mature despite what Microsoft might want us to believe and is (and IMHO will continue to be) dominated by Google. But what about that next step? Well, we do have Twitter and search.twitter.com and as we’ve seen Google would like to bring that into its portfolio, even though that doesn’t look possible, at least at present.

 

In a presentation I did with IDC colleague Mary Wardley earlier this year on social CRM, we used this line: “People are congregating online. People are talking about your brand but are you there to hear what they’re saying?” In many ways I think that statement is the new mantra of a social business. You can’t “control” what is being said but you could be there to join the conversation.

But how do you join a conversation that is not


200908191514.jpg The social web is fundamentally about enabling conversations at scale. Those conversations are the building blocks of the new social enterprise. I was thinking about these two statements and it seems to me that one of the most critical tools for using the social web in a business is the availability of real-time search. We’re only just on the edge of starting to realize what real-time search means though.

Static search is very mature despite what Microsoft might want us to believe and is (and IMHO will continue to be) dominated by Google. But what about that next step? Well, we do have Twitter and search.twitter.com and as we’ve seen Google would like to bring that into its portfolio, even though that doesn’t look possible, at least at present.

 

In a presentation I did with IDC colleague Mary Wardley earlier this year on social CRM, we used this line: “People are congregating online. People are talking about your brand but are you there to hear what they’re saying?” In many ways I think that statement is the new mantra of a social business. You can’t “control” what is being said but you could be there to join the conversation.

But how do you join a conversation that is not conducted on your “turf” and in fact could happen almost anywhere and anytime online? In this new social web world you do not control the channels and the channels of choice are open to anyone with a device (notice I said device and not computer, the new internet is mobile) and an internet connection. You don’t need to know what has been said, you need to know what IS being said. Enter real-time search (and social analytics)… it’s really about balancing immediacy with popularity and relevance.

That’s fine for brand monitoring, where you need to manage sentiment and image; and customer service, where you want to have a dialog and solve customer issues. But are there other places where real time search are important? Why couldn’t you adjust current adword-type marketing to serve contextual ads or offers during a conversation?

Now I don’t mean in an in your face offensive way of course, but in a trust-based and transparent way during a conversation. I also don’t mean in a Facebook ad way either, at least not the way Facebook serves ads to my profile. They clearly use triggers/keywords out of my profile information, but it is also clear that they are taken out of context (and that they don’t give much weight to my thumbs down voting, I’ve been on an all out campaign against those dating service ads for over 3 months now and they will not go away, grrrr!). Anyway, the point is that real time conversations (and the ability to join them through real time search) would enable real time advertising in context.

There are a few fairly new services that I’m trying that are real-time search based. I have used many of the Twitter-based real time options like search.twitter.com / RSS, Tweetdeck groups and searches, Tweetscope, Tweetmeme, dailyrt,  etc. for awhile. I’m talking about aardvark, scoopler, OneRiot  and LazyFeed. LazyFeed is new and I have been using it since its launch a few weeks ago. The site enables the user to establish relevance through tagging and then uses those tags to show the latest content from the sites you connect (currently Twitter, Flickr, Blogs, and Delicious). There is also a hot topics feed.

Aardvark is a very different real-time experience. The site establishes a community and then allows members to ask questions via the web, IM, email or Twitter. The questions are sent to self identified experts via email or IM for an answer. The “experts” either answer or pass. Scoopler and OneRiot are more of a Google-like search experience, at least from a user perspective although they also serve up hot topics. OneRiot also adds a video search tab.

Even Facebook is moving into real time with its acquisition of Friendfeed. This is a rapidly evolving space that is reaching outside of Twitter and even spilling into video, which could be the next big “thing.” It will be exciting to watch the rapid evolution of these tools and to see if Google makes a move for real time as well.

 

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