Twitter is integrating a search function into its site, a move that will put the company in a more direct competition with Facebook and Google. Twitter is an online service that allows people to post instant messages, known as “tweets,” which can be read by other users.
The company has had a search function for some time at search.twitter.com, but only began putting a search box on a growing number of users’ pages starting March 6. Twitter has also included a “Trends” menu where users can see the subjects currently generating the most online traffic (such as “Watchmen movie”).
The move promises to increase competition with Facebook and Google, which have been trying to strengthen their search and social networking capabilities.
Twitter’s rise as a messaging and collaboration phenomenon has been rapid, but with it has come a few issues, particularly concerns over phishing vulnerabilities. In January 2008, news spread of a Twitter-based phishing campaign designed to steal account data with promises of an iPhone.
Those potential problems aside, Twitter’s move to highlight its search function may be an indicator of the company’s future plans to acquire revenue.
“A search function offers opportunities to sell online advertising. For years there’s been a notion of capturing eyeballs and, once you have them on the site, leveraging that relationship for additional revenues,” Charles King, an analyst with Pund-IT Research, said in an interview.
While many organizations have started using Twitter, often as a way to connect with customers, the service’s value to the enterprise is still unclear.
“I can see how it would work for certain people in an organization, but it can suck the time out of your day,” King said. “It’s not quite a defined benefit yet.”