Real time search is a big buzzword these days. Almost every search engine will pull up some results from Twitter and other social sites. What happens when you want to search only social sites?
Social search engines have been gaining popularity with everyone from news providers to the everyday person like you and me. They bring you the most current and opinion based information available.
Two of the most popular sites that search Twitter are Topsy and Tweetmeme. Both offer the the same basic service, they go about it in totally different ways. Here is a breakdown of the two.
On your first arrival to the the homepage, you will notice Topsy has a very simplistic Google–like layout. It is also very similar to Twitter’s own search page; very few words, just a search bar and some trending topics.
The way Topsy gets the results for your search, is by tracking the links people send when they are talking back and forth on Twitter. The more people like to something the higher up in the ranks a link can go in the results. Also, the more influential the person talking about the link helps too.
For some searches, you may want to keep updated on the results. You may have a product you are looking for reviews on, managing a brand or maybe you want to know when someone talks about your favorite sports team; Topsy has options for you. You are given two options to follow future results; RSS and email alerts.
Being able to filter out parts of the search you are not interested in can save you a ton of time. Filter results with photos, by tweets or web results. In addition to where to search, you also have the option of when to search.
Tweetmeme has a different approach to the results it displays. The first thing that popped into my head when I saw Tweetmeme’s homepage was how much it reminded me of Digg. It has a similar layout and the main page displays new and popular tweets from all categories.
I am sure every one of you has seen a tweetmeme button on a site. If not, it looks a little something like this:
When you click the button to RT, this helps them stay on top of what people are tweeting about.
As you can see, there is a lot more going on when you click on a specific story. You are shown the original tweet, stories from the front page, options to comment, follow, RTs and even the analytics of the tweet.
When drilling down your search results with Tweetmeme, you are given the options of when and by category or channel. Despite my initial thoughts, this works pretty well to narrow the results helping you find relevant stories to your search.
The way I see most people using these sites is:
Topsy would be used more of a research and result tracking social search engine. Because there is a lack of socialness in the query results, it is a great place to keep up with what people buzzing about. Great for tracking brands, keywords, events or how viral a link is.
Tweetmeme would be used if you want to search and engage people who are talking about like minded topics or links. Finding like minded people and being able to follow them on the spot is great. Not having an option to follow the results of the query doesn’t make it the ideal tool for following a topic long term, but it IS great for quick searches or seeing what is trending and who is making it popular.
What do you think?
image credit: tristanf