Predicting Twitter’s Impact on Local

Andrew Shotland has “penned,” as they used to say, a provocative post at SEL this morning on Twitter’s potential impact on Local with its various geo-related announcements from Chirp (stay tuned for Facebook this week). To summarize this is what Andrew says:

Points of Interest. With Twitter’s points of interest feature, the game is finally afoot. Essentially this means that Twitter will need to create a page or profile for each local business. While it will be cool to see the Twitter stream and the accompanying links, photos, tips, reviews and other info that accompany these geo-tweets, sooner or later (methinks sooner) Twitter is going to want to add standard yellow pages listing data to these profiles to round them out and make them truly useful.

Essentially Andrew is arguing that Twitter will be creating its version of Google Place Pages, with YP listings data.

Promoted Tweets. Now the local chiropractor can have a significant voice in discussions that involve his business (I can hear the reputation management consultants salivating) and he can also target geo-specific discussions about his specialty (e.g. a guy in his service area tweeting about his aching back) . . . Of course, the only way for businesses to do this kind of stuff is to verify that in fact they are the business—you wouldn’t want your competitor impersonating you and buying your keywords would you? And this leads me to believe that Twitter is going to have the equivalent of Google Local Business Center’s verification process. Which again leads me to believe that Twitter is on its way to creating a local search monster. They could quickly become a significant source of accurate, up-to-date business data . . .

Three predictions here: Twitter local business center, Promoted Tweets as paid marketing tool for SMBs and master database

Annotations. The thing I find intriguing for local is that “annotations” is just a fancy word for “tags.” And in local tags can be things like “cool bar,” “best dui attorney,” etc. Now it’s unclear if these tags will start showing up on Twitter, or just on third party applications. But when I think about it, this kind of stuff starts sounding like a yellow pages on steroids.

On the last point (Annotations), I agree that we’ll probably see lots of “reviews” (more like tips) coming out of Twitter associated with particular places and maybe with particular businesses. We’ll have to see the context and structure that gets developed around it. I also think that Twitter will be generating lots of data/metadata but don’t agree that the company will eventually generate a master local database.

On Points of Interest, I don’t agree that Twitter will be creating Place Pages with YP listings data. However a third party (or multiple third parties) might do something like that and Google will likely add related tweets to its Place Pages. Other third parties will do some version of the same. Citysearch was the first among the local sites to do so. (This also raises and implicates the @Anywhere strategy.)

Regarding Promoted Tweets, I believe that Twitter will become a more and more useful marketing tool for SMBs. But this may not extend to Promoted Tweets. As Twitter gets more distribution and tweets become better organized and filtered it’s natural that many SMBs, among others, will adopt it. For example, Bing is starting to index tweets on SERPs that are related to the query, in a more structured way than Google is now doing. Google will probably do something similar over time.

What that means as a practical matter is that SMBs (and others) can use Twitter as a tool to distribute promotional messages in search results potentially tied to their category or business name. In the future someone might do a search, for example, for “San Francisco Dentist” and see a tweet on Bing and maybe Google that read: “50% off a cleaning for new customers.” That’s not being done today but it becomes very possible in the near future.

If Promoted Tweets is very simple to adopt and/or there are enough marketing channels that are helping do it (e.g., Yodle, YP, etc.) you might see adoption by local businesses directly or indirectly. More likely in my mind, however, is greater adoption of “organic” Twitter usage at the local level.

Regardless of whether any of these specific predictions come to pass, I agree with Andrew that Twitter will be impacting local in a potentially significant way.

We’re going to see tons more data at the local level from Twitter and soon Facebook. When you add that to Foursquare, among many others tagging locations, checking in and providing “tips,” it means we will be awash in location information. Not long ago there was limited local data, beyond the listings database and some reviews. Soon we will be swimming in local data and metadata and the challenge will be to organize, filter and make it useful for everybody.

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9 Responses to “Predicting Twitter’s Impact on Local”

  1. Notebook And PC | Newest Gadget Says:

    [...] Predicting Twitter's Impact upon Local « Screenwerk [...]

  2. Andrew Shotland Says:

    I keep picturing that Twiiter page for @joespizza and I see a steady stream of tweets about Joe’s Pizza but I also see a link that says “Are you Joe’s Pizza? If so claim this Tweet Stream”. And if they know the Tweet stream is a about Joe’s Pizza why wouldn’t they add the location data to the page? It would certainly make it more useful. But then again maybe Twitter just wants to be the router of communications and not the endpoint. I think that was Google’s original plan too before the Google Maps listings started showing up in Web search and pushing local directories off of page 1.

  3. Andrew Shotland Says:

    Re SMBs and Promoted Tweets are you saying that SMBs won’t be able to buy them? Or that they won’t link Promoted Tweets to a SMB profile?

  4. Greg Sterling Says:

    It depends on what they roll out and how easy it is to use . . . same as general SMB issues with online ads. If it’s simple and clear, more buyers.

    But I think Twitter’s ubiquity and especially its visibility in search results will drive more local businesses to use it “organically.”

  5. Greg Sterling Says:

    Re “Twitter pages” . . . I agree with your scenario that they could try and associate the business’s own page/account with the Tweets about that business. And while they’re at it . . . But I don’t think Twitter’s going to build anything very elaborate here.

  6. Andrew Shotland Says:

    True, Twitter does seem to favor the “build just enough functionality to get the job done” strategy, but if advertising is their future then it seems that sooner or later they are going to want to connect the dots. That said, they don’t need the location data on @joespizza to rank well in Google for searches for “Joe’s Pizza NY” or any other location.

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