Far behind third-party tools, like Mr. Tweet, Twitter finally launches a user directory.
The Twitter blog posted an announcement of the new feature, entitled "Discover new accounts and search like a pro", however the feature set is limited compared to the third party tools already out there. Nonetheless, with Twitter intending to own it's own eco-system, it is a step in the right direction.
Twitter's Suggestion Features are Just for Posterity
Users hoping to connect with the best authorities in their industries will be disappointed with the new Twitter follower suggestion feature.
The feature offers a generic set of categories which only contain 50-126 users. Whilst it may help a new user, it does nothing for 'pros'.
In order for Twitter to be most effective, users must be able to connect with influential users within their own professions, hobbies, or interests. This just does not cut it.
The ability to find users is still better processed through third party tools. It still is, and always has been this way. The gap is so wide between Twitter's official tools and third parties that there is simply no comparison.
Using Advanced Operators to Find Users
Advanced Operators allow you to segment your search via a myriad of different commands.
However, you still have to sort through good profiles and bad profiles and profiles in your native language. With no ability to remove the bulk of spammy accounts, non-relevant, or automated profiles, it becomes a guessing game and an extremely daunting task.
Advanced Operator Features:
- Search by Location - Needed for regional businesses, users looking to connect with a local community.
- Search by Exact Phrase or Broad Match
- Search by User
- Search does not include 'Keyword'
- Search by sentiment - a newer feature that allows you to see tweets based on positive or negative sentiments.
- Search by source - ie. Twitterfeed
- Search questions - simply by adding a trailing "?" you can search for questions only.
- Search for links - "filter:links" will show your desired keyword's tweets with links only.
3 Ways to Search
Social CRM software is built on the foundation of measuring authority and influence. Not only that, Social CRM software is touted to be the next big thing. By not incorporating deep suggestions or incorporating values of influence for users, Twitter will miss out on this. Let's compare search methods with their strengths and weaknesses:
1) Through Twitter's Search & Advanced Operators
- No measurement of authority.
- Must use advanced operators to search by location, profile data, etc.
- Majority of users are spammers or 100% automated.
2) Through Twitter's suggestion feature
- Very shallow, or incomplete, list of results.
- Influential users, but no clear value for measure of influence.
- Already following several.
3) Through third-party sites and tools
- Hootsuite will sort users by Klout Score.
- Topsy's Expert Search will show thousands of authority users.
- Built advanced operators (location, profile data, followers of, following, etc.) into the program so users don't have to know the command to use.
SEO Expert Profiles from Twitter.com:
- Only 20 users displayed.
- No metrics explaining why these 20 are displayed.
- Already am following several!
- Several users are mostly automated.
SEO Profiles from Topsy's Expert Search:
- Over 700 profiles!
- Number of @mentions are displayed.
- @Mentions are not the only metric used in sorting.
- Easy to follow experts by authorizing Topsy to login through Twitter.
The Importance of Suggested Profiles
If you are a brand trying to grow your audience, then it is crucial to find other users to follow, retweet and interact with; people to co-exist on the Twit-o-sphere with. Profiles with influence are not just preferred, they are required.
With Twitter only offering a tiny number of users to follow, a "Spray & Pray" strategy is likely to be adopted by new users. This only adds validity to spam accounts and forces the rest of us to invest in third party applications and social CRM software.