It seems all of our favorite insider blogs are floating a heading that contains “Search” and “Social Media.” Even next week’s Search Engine Strategies Conference in New York contains no less that 6 sessions around social media, including a special social media track. However, with as many of these articles that I have read, none seem to explain how social media and search mesh other than being buzz topics for them to claim an expertise.
I see it as a “Chicken or the Egg” discussion on whether social media drives search or search drives social media. More importantly, if you are in the business of identifying trends, where should you watch if you want to stay ahead of the curve? For my money, I would look at two places, Twitter analysis tools to understand breaking news events and search tools for identifying what people are interested in.
Why two places? News events get reported first on twitter. The event could be as big as the Hudson River plane landing or “I’m having coffee.” It’s highly probably that 99 of 100 event trends discovered on Twitter may have no legs to affect the social media space. However, there is still that 1 in a 100 that strikes a chord with someone. That person does an entry in their blog, that entry gets posted on a Twitter feed, that eventually finds its way into Facebook by someone who has their Twitter and Facebook accounts linked, and all of a sudden you have people searching for the topic to learn more.
The life-cycle of this event would be like this:
News Event > Twitter Post > Twitter Trend > (Facebook) > Search Trend > Steady Search Traffic
Think of the Motrin Mom story or the Octomom. To so many people these were non-issues when they first read it. I remember reading about the women who gave birth to eight babies, and then thinking how amazing that was and that she would get the hero treatment. Then someone looked closer and the story got some serious legs. Soon “Octomom” had regular Google search traffic, and the sentiment completely shifted.
Let’s look at how you can track events and that lead to social trends. Below are some tools that I have used for in tracking terms:
1) Discovering Breaking Trends – Using Twitter trending tools
Below are some tools
- Twitter Search – Found below the search box
- TweetStats – Provides a trend cloud and historical list
- @trending – From Karelia Software (http://karelia.com/)
- Twendz – Highlights conversation themes and sentiment of tweets
2) Identifying What People Actively Want – Use search engine trends
Update (4/1/09)- Thanks goes out to David Berkowitz and his fine blog, Inside the Marketers Studio, for pointing out this article on other Twitter analysis tools: 8 Excellent Tools to Extract Insights from Twitter Streams by Yung-Hui Lim on Social Media Today.