Twitter is testing an integrated search feature on their main site. The test is currently available in beta to a handful of signed in users.
A post by Twitter co-founder, Biz Stone, on the Twitter blog says that ‘search’ and ‘trends’ have now been placed on the signed-in homepage of a few randomly selected Twitter users. They will see how users respond to the feature before it is released for general use.
Twitter Search allows users to query events occurring and the thoughts of people with respect to those events in real time. This feature will be available only to accounts that are open for public access. However, that should not be a problem as 90% of Twitter users have gone ahead with the decision to make their accounts public.
With the emphasis that online chat and conversations are now gaining, thanks to social sites like Facebook, Orkut, blogs and Twitter, it is expected that Twitter Search will gain in popularity once it is released for general use.
How leading search engines like Google will react to this new feature, and whether they will be negatively affected by it is a subject of much speculation on the blogosphere at present.
It should be remembered that when one is conducting a detailed search on any given topic, the user is more likely to be interested in substantiated facts and figures rather than the random thoughts and opinions of lay personnel.
However, these thoughts could certainly be useful to some groups of people, such as advertisers, as it helps them find out what their audience wants, and plan and publish their campaigns accordingly.
Twitter is also likely to try and monetise this new facility. The prospect certainly appears to be very promising and exciting to their new investors who put $35 million into this project.