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Should Google Buy Twitter?

watson-frank
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Google's attempts to break into the social networking space haven't really been too impressive, though they obviously recognize its importance. Their Open Social involvement and launch of Friend Connect show they have commitment. The problem? Their efforts haven't proven as popular as Google Search or Gmail.

Actually, they should've worked more on integrating something through Gmail, which could have had a much more viral reach. People could have simply clicked to recommend it to others.

Twitter would be the perfect platform. Though if they're feeling really generous, they should buy it and keep it free, sort of like what they did with Google Analytics. It would give them the hottest thing in social media right now and an area that could use some help with tracking success.

Left to its own devices, Twitter could create a large chink in Google's armor. It generates traffic and is far more accurate on building TrustRank.

True, people are gaming it to some point, but fakes are found out a lot quicker than they are in search results pages. While the fake Dalai Lama grabbed tens of thousands of followers, he was shot down inside 36 hours.

The Immediate Social Search Option

The power of Twitter goes beyond just what it can offer as far as keeping Google at the head of all things online. It could easily integrate a button at the top to be able to search the Web and take people to a Google search page. I'd use it. I've had to tab out of Twitter many times to find something for someone.

Plus, they would have the impact of the search function in Twitter itself. My friend Avi Wilenski told me he used Twitter when his hosting went down to see if others were having the same problem and complaining.

For immediate search of events, such as the recent plane crash in the Hudson River or comments on the inauguration, nothing beats the speed of Twitter search.

The element of branding and reputation management would also be a big plus to their large advertisers. They could add Twitter comments in to Google Alerts and have real time comments being sent to people. The options here are endless.

Danny Sullivan, in his SMX keynote this week, asked Google and Yahoo to integrate Twitter search. Maybe if Google bought it, they could tweak the search option as well as really learn something about TrustRank. The interrelationship of followers and the use of retweets may give them some deeper understanding that could be then applied to the search algorithm.

"Why [don't” Google and Yahoo offer Twitter search? Gives people instant feedback. Was that really an earthquake? Is everyone else's power out? Develop a hyper-real-time tool to see what's being buzzed about," Danny was reported as saying by Lisa Barone.

We know they couldn't do it on their own. Jaiku got pulled, and the rest are just passive efforts to have a hand in the space.

So please, Google, grab Twitter and do the right thing -- the "not evil" thing -- and keep it a free resource that you can add a search tab to and grab revenue from right there.

Chris Boggs Fires Back

I've only recently joined Twitter and am starting to understand its potential.

A partner in our company, Adam Cohen, is someone who I would refer to as a power user. He has evangelized the value of it as both a networking and knowledge-sharing tool, and has developed a pretty impressive following.

I asked him why I get so few responses to the types of tweets I post, such as asking for feedback on Ethnio, Google's First Click Free, and other tactics or tools we (or our clients) have considered testing. He advised me that I need to be more direct and call-out specific @'s in order to get momentum for the feedback.

Adam's advice makes me feel that you're on the right track in your analysis of Twitter, Frank. This tool has very powerful trust and "folksonomic" implications, and it may be wise for Google to test it out.

Friend Connect is no less of a bomb than Google Co-Op seems to have been, but the possibly more useful combination of some Co-Op factors with Twitter could make things very interesting.

For those unfamiliar, Co-Op allows signed-in users to label or tag sites around a particular subject. Some users, such as Dr. Choi, have become in essence "power users," as evident by the sites they have labeled within the pharmaceutical industry, for example. This user was already trusted by the system back in 2006 when I was first experimenting with Co-Op. His hypothetical Twitter network may certainly be well qualified to collectively influence certain rankings, so that could be an interesting test.

If Google buys Twitter, it will be interesting to see how much they would pay. Even more interesting would be to see if they kept it free, and how they would leverage the community. There certainly is a lot of space on the site layout for AdSense boxes, that's for sure.

Please share your thoughts with Frank Watson and Chris Boggs on Twitter.


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