By Tom Foster
It was a busy summer in the world of Internet marketing, and the dust is only beginning to settle. It seems like, just yesterday, Twitter was this new social networking phenomenon that everyone was afraid to use, Microsoft was slowly dwindling away as search engine-nobodies, and Google was on top of the world and didn’t have to worry about anyone else.
Well, some of this has changed (to an extent) with some developing stories in world of Internet marketing. So, without further ado, here are the top five stories of the summer and why you should pay attention to them.
5. Twitter emerges as leader in real-time search
While many continue to question Twitter’s staying power and hacking vulnerabilities, the social networking site continued to grow in both size and popularity over the summer as many news outlets, companies, and organizations are currently using the site as a main source of syndication.
While it does seem true (based on retention numbers) that many only visit Twitter sporadically (as opposed to Facebook and other social networking sites which are typically checked daily by users), this is likely caused by the number of spam accounts that are created because of the level of ease involved with creating a Twitter account (Facebook is a little more involved and requires a lot more effort to create a profile) and finding followers to spam.
I mean, what does a spammer really have to do other than upload a picture, fill in a bio, launch a few tweets and go searching for suckers?
Twitter has publicly said that they are doing everything they can to limit spam accounts, and a recent ESPN E:60 documentary on the lack of authenticity of some athlete-intimidating profiles on Twitter with a high number of followers created with the sole purpose of misleading those followers (one person apparently approached Shaq about something that an impostor tweeted, sparking a confrontation) concluded that the need for verified accounts is necessary in certain instances.
Nonetheless, despite Twitter’s growing pains, it has emerged as a major player in the new era of search: real-time.
Real-time search is becoming more an more popular with both searchers and search-ees (aka those who know how to effectively manage their Twitter profiles from a business perspective).
From the searcher’s point of view: no more only finding sites and blog entries that are already a few weeks/months old because that’s how long it takes Google and Yahoo! to index, no more finding companies that you know nothing about and have to question their reliability and transparency, and no more annoying sponsored ads.
From the search-ees’s point of view: no more waiting that long for your site or blog to appear in search results, and a very easy way to post content, announce blog posts and press releases, and reach out to potential clients from the grassroots level.
Now If someone could just come up with a tool where you could see who views your Twitter profile, we’d be in business.
So you would think that, with all of Twitter’s problems: accounts being hacked, users not logging in regularly, spam accounts running ramped, that the other players in the search engine/social networking world would ignore the little blue bird and assume that they would eventually fall off, right?
Nope, just the opposite.
4. Facebook tries (really hard) to be more like Twitter
One of the best quotes I’ve heard so far in response to Facebook’s extensive efforts to be more like Twitter:
“If you can’t innovate, imitate.”
And that’s exactly what Facebook has done over the past few months and, it would appear, will continue to do.
First came the home page design
In case your forgot what the old Facebook home page looked like, here it is (screenshot courtesy of PCMag)
Remember the days when a status message was sacred? You might have posted something once a week if you got around to it, and it was like this personal statement that told EVERYONE what you were doing or how you were feeling?
I don’t know about you, but since the Facebook redesign where the main call to action is
I can’t get my friends to shut up!
Everyone’s sharing links to blog posts and movies, giving opinions on news events and political happenings, and I’m seeing status messages for some friends 20 and 30 times a day it seems like.
Next up: Facebook’s announcement that they have recently launched a real-time search feature.
The layout even looks similar to a Twitter search.
And last but not least, Facebook also recently announced that they are launching a Facebook Lite, and judging by the screen shots, I see some similarities.
Some features that I wouldn’t be surprised to see integrated into Facebook or Facebook Lite:
- A character limit for status messages
- A buzzword for status messages
It will also be interesting to see if Twitter offers Facebook-like features such as paid ads, on-site video and photo sharing (as opposed to external links), and recommended followers. Either way, it was interesting to watch this summer as each site made significant changes (Twitter also redesigned their home page, added the trending topics feature, and added some “paid definition” feature which I’m not sure anyone pays attention to) and will likely continue to do so in the battle of social networking sites.
That’s the end of part one of the Top 5 Web Marketing News Stories of the Summer that you should be paying attention to. In part two we plan on touching on the emergence of Bing, Bing’s purchase of Yahoo!, and Google’s response to everything that has happened this summer.