The biggest loser in the Twitter search deals

No, it’s not FriendFeed, although yesterday didn’t provide any good news to users there who really would love to hear that their community still matters. Google and Microsoft said “no.”

So, who is the biggest loser in the Twitter search deals announced yesterday (First Bing announced it made a deal with Twitter. Then Google jumped in and said “me too.”)

Facebook.

“But didn’t Facebook make a deal with Bing too yesterday?”

Yes.

But tell me again what market share that Bing has? Somewhere less than 10%. Even if they double that over the next year (hint: they won’t) that means 20%. Now, what’s Google’s market share? Somewhere around 70%, right? So, even if it loses 10% to Bing that still is 60%.

In other words, if you aren’t on Google you don’t exist to most people.

Who doesn’t exist on Google (at least in terms of deals for the firehose feed?)

1. FriendFeed (which is owned by Facebook).
2. Facebook.

Why did this happen?

Well, remember, Microsoft has an advertising deal with Facebook. I bet there’s some funny language in a contract somewhere that is keeping Facebook from making search deals with Google.

Loser!

So, why does all this search stuff matter for tweets and Facebook status messages?

Well, I keep looking at searches for businesses. Things like if you are looking on Google for “Sushi in Palo Alto, CA.”

See that list? What do you notice about it?

I notice a few things.

1. It feels cold when compared to, say, my Facebook feed. Why is that? No friends!
2. There’s no real time news. Did a great shipment of salmon ship in yesterday? How would I know from this list?
3. There are no offers from restaurant #3. This is where the money is and Google is leaving a TON of it on the table here but Yelp is actually showing the way here — open up Yelp’s iPhone app and you’ll see offers to try to get you into the restaurant.

So, how can Twitter help?

Well, if certain Tweets could be routed to this page, especially ones from my friends who will tell me that, say, Fuki-Sushi has the best fresh fish, well, then, that would be very cool and useful. Even further, what if both restaurants and customers could talk about Fuki-Sushi in real time? When I was in Paris last year we were in a restaurant where rats were crawling on the floor. Wouldn’t you like to know that about a restaurant before you took your date there? Isn’t real time very important? I think so. I want to know what the experience is there now, not last night. My favorite sushi restaurant always has a line. Wouldn’t it be fun to see a Tweet from someone who is there telling you that the line at your favorite place is short right now?

And, couldn’t Twitter be used as infrastructure to deliver offers from the restaurants themselves? Oh, yeah!

But all that isn’t the real reason why Facebook is the big loser.

Facebook has another problem. People think it’s a service for talking to your college friends. Or your close “real world” friends and family. I watch my wife and that’s how she uses it. She doesn’t understand that Facebook needs to move her into their public world so that they can turn on search and enable other cool experiences that will go outside of her little walled garden.

It will be professional publishers that drag people to new use cases. Already people are starting to change their behaviors on Facebook because of celebrity fan pages, which are public.

But where will influential people, celebrities, brands, professional publishers, etc choose to publish? Where their words have a shot at getting at the biggest audiences.

Today that audience is on Google. Google is the prize. Repeat that 50 times.

Twitter, so far, has made a deal with Google. Facebook, so far, has NOT made a deal with Google.

Until Facebook can get around the terms in that advertising deal it signed with Microsoft it is the biggest loser of the day yesterday.

Comments

  1. Maybe it's just me…but I use my facebook as a private space because that's what it is. I don't need everyone to have access to the pictures I share or things I do. I also thing its important to keep facebook more private because if I open up my profile with pictures, none of the people that I'm friends with gave me the right to distribute pictures of them.

    I think Twitter and Facebook are both great, but in my mind I use them for different connections and forms of communication.

  2. That's only PART of what it is. Most of what I do in Facebook is actually public. I have been telling people at Facebook that they should split the service into two pieces: one private and one public. Anything you do on a Facebook Page (celebrity, or brands, etc) is in public and is available to search engines.

    I agree that the perception of Facebook is holding it back and is enabling Twitter to thrive.

  3. But Robert, do you want all the exchanges with your friends from Facebook to be found back via Google or any other search engine. Sharing with friends = sharing with the world?

  4. I think it's only PART of what facebook is for high profile people, such as yourself. I give access to my facebook account to people who have found me from my Blackberry Development stuff, but I immediately lock them down to a restricted group. Part of that was my decision and part of it was from my wife. It's important to remember that facebook is your information, and information from other people. I don't have the right to make my stuff public at the expense of people who want things kept private.

    I think there are certain things that could be public on facebook, but for things that I would want public on facebook, photos, status updates, etc…I just use Twitter.

    Two different services with Two totally different purposes and I'd like to see it stay that way.

  5. Great post. It’s all starting to make sense now. Real Time is not only important for the obvious informational reasons, but for the social reasons. It’s simply more exciting as well as being more useful. Real time is the first step for the digital realm to enter the emotional realm. Real time/Social Graft equals the digital equivalent of “wooing” which is a huge step in bridging the gap between the techno geeky side of the Communications revolution to “everyday people” so to speak, where its benefits can be shared and utilized to their maximum effect. Love how you can step back and see the big picture. thanks a lot.

  6. You are thinking Facebook is going to ONLY be about that. It no longer is. Did you realize that Facebook is building a whole “public” piece? Did you know that Facebook Connect, for instance, is being built out and helped Huffington Post get bigger than Washington Post online? Did you know that Facebook Pages are used by tons of businesses and celebrities and anything you write on those is public and would be great for including in business listings? There's a time for a private life and a time for a public one. Facebook could do both. Just like Twitter does both (DM's to me are private, remember).

  7. What is good for Facebook is not necessarily good for its members and vice versa.
    Facebook may be the big loser but I know many people (users) who prefer it to be like that.

    Personally, I think that FB wants to directly compete with Google (at least in the near future) but using a more indirect approach to search and advertising/sales using modules such as FB connect.
    As you suggest, the audience is on Google, but what about the “community” ?

  8. <Facebook has another problem. People think it’s a service for talking to your college friends.

    Worse. They *feel* it's elitist.

  9. Facebook used Google as the bait to secure the Microsoft deal. And now facebook ends up regretting it. But whoknows. With the kind of *real* information facebook has on people (friends, likes, photos, etc) they might end-up going head-to-head with Google.

  10. Laurent: community? Social behavior is definitely on Facebook but don't count Google out here. Look at my blog. It has thousands of people who've joined Google's community and look at Google Wave. It got tons of hype and tons of users even though it really is an abortion of a product. What if Wave weren't a horribly designed product? Google can afford to keep trying until they nail it. Google Wave did have a lot of brilliance in it and if they find a way to surface that Google will be off to the races.

  11. Great post. It's all starting to make sense now. Real Time is not only important for the obvious informational reasons, but for the social reasons. It's simply more exciting as well as being more useful. Real time is the first step for the digital realm to enter the emotional realm. Real time/Social Graft equals the digital equivalent of “wooing” which is a huge step in bridging the gap between the techno geeky side of the Communications revolution to “everyday people” so to speak, where its benefits can be shared and utilized to their maximum effect. Love how you can step back and see the big picture. thanks a lot.

  12. Very cool as in a monetising tool? Would be lists a used/spread enough feature to compete with the immediacy of the basic service?

    Personal opinion is lists would be a even more easier way to uber-filter and aggregate different sources news, theoretically building your own newspaper. No need to get to the (one only) source anymore. An RSS dream come true…

  13. Facebook can be fun. It's fun to see old college friends, but I agree FB can feel kinda Microsofty in its evilness vibe. But anyway, the question becomes how do they monetize this fruitful social graph they've created.?

  14. I have a list of ONLY news brands. It has totally replaced my RSS reader. That's quite different from my other list of people who program, or another list of Rackspace employees. Lists are HUGE and offer a ton of new capabilities, both for users, search engines, programmers, and other constituencies. But, yes, you're right. That's exactly what's good about lists.

  15. That's true.
    The fact is that Google has the budgets to do whatever they want. The feeling I have is that Google tries to create different niches around its search engine and later interconnect them. On the other hand I feel that FB plans to integrate existing platforms from the backdoor.
    I must admit not having used Google Wave yet so I can't compare.
    On the other hand, I believe there is and must be room enough for several competing platforms. And in some cases being the loser doesn't necessarily mean that you will lose on the long run.
    What I'm personally trying to figure out is if it is the developers who create the product or is it the usage by the members/community that define the product.

  16. Very interesting point. I agree. Microsoft has a share in Facebook ownership (although not a big one) which is probably preventing them from making any search deals with Google.

  17. Great Post Robert, I think even with the Twitter/Google Facebook/Bing tie ups we are still some what short of the true potential. I think the real goldmine is in associating meaning with Tweets. For example how will we ‘know’ which restaurant a tweet is referring to if it’s full name and address is not in the tweet, what if there are more than one restaurant with that name? imagine people being put of the wrong restaurant because of a rumour about rats crawling around is being spread. This is a story just waiting to happen…false rumours for Celebrities is one thing but it could actually be used maliciously against business owners (now there’s a lawsuit just waiting to happen).

    Over here in the UK we are building a new service called YouPage that combines listing search, microblogs and recommendations, where we understand a messages meaning from the start. If you search for say Jewellery – British spelling ;o) – you will find relevant listings as well as microblog entries posted by the business owner. i.e.http://www.youpage.co.uk/results.aspx?Search=jewellery This was only possible by associating semantics with each tweet. Google/Microsoft will have to find some way of doign this with Tweets in order for us to get to the listing/real-time opinions we want.

    Nigel
    @youpage
    http://youpage.com

  18. I’m still going to be wanting to split my search results. I can use the same terms for different reasons. If I’m planning a trip to Paris, knowing the lines to a restaurant now is irrelevant, I want a corpus of reviews, I want the restaurant site to see where it is, see menus.

    To take a current example; if I want to see information on Nick Griffin (trending on Twitter at the moment) I may want to see what people are saying about him OR I may want to know who he is and what he stands for (Or I even may want info about the comedian and not the politician). real-time adds an element, but care needs to be taken that it does not completely ruin search.

    There’s at least news search; there’s situational search (ie location stuff) and and there’s research search. (there’ll be a lot more search types as well) The context element has a long way to go and one size does not fit all.

  19. Couldn't agree more about your take on real time, but Facebook hasn't totally missed the boat yet. I'd be pretty hesitant to give my data fire hose over to any search companies (Google) without some deals on splitting the revenue generated from searches there, good old affiliate style. You get some cash out of the info, I can get some cash for gathering it.

    Who really lost out yesterday US!

    That's right users got boned again by finding out an incredible social media model is not getting full time development any longer, that's friendfeed. It's probably not getting any big changes anytime soon, but we knew that back in August when we shifted gears. I notice you still have the friendfeed embed on your blog, I took mine down temporarily and popped it back up a little lower in the column. My blog felt so empty without it.

    We're still waiting on the silver bullet to connect social, relevant information instantly to us when we need it using all the rich public info out there. Here's to hoping a few companies come together and figure it out soon.

    Who knows, maybe the next startup you interview will have a helluva plan and a team to implement it?

  20. I wonder if deals like this (or the lack of a deal in this case) will actually impact Google's market share in search over the long term? Is Facebook's popularity Bing's gain or is Google's share of search, Facebook's demise?

  21. My wife uses Facebook the same way that yours uses Facebook: to connect with friends. Why is that wrong? Not everyone wants to be a internet celebrity egomaniac. People who want to stay private represent a market that is big for Facebook. Personally, I use both. Facebook for my IRL friend social network, Twitter, my blog, LinkedIn, for my professional, public social network. That is working pretty well for me.

    I think trying to be the dominant Internet destination is Web 1.0 thinking. The beauty of the Internet is how nicely different resources can be assembled to create enriching experiences. Its not all about being on Google. I think our wives like Facebook precisely because it is not on Google.

  22. I bet it's not terms, Robert. I bet it's the problem they will have convincing the people who don't WANT a publicly searchable FB that it's desirable. Sam is on FB because it's not searchable, and so's Chelsea. They don't live publicly and don't want to.

  23. Like phikai points out, most people use facebook for private world, twitter is public.
    Facebook is basically a closed platform so will be very difficult to have just one deal.
    Unless they go for behavioral ad's they may lose to more open platforms i.e twitter and search engines.
    However – the benefit facebook have is they very personal interaction through the inbox and wall to wall posts so targeting ad's which will appeal to any of the ad networks especially the largest ad networks, it might be a case of who has the best negotiation skills to work with each other.
    The losers in all of this is really is the general public, do we get what we want or do we get what makes the most revenue for the “service providers”?

  24. I can see where Facebook will continue and combine private family/friends interactions with public fan/businesses/media interactions, and so far I see them doing good job of keeping it separate.

    I think we need to keep in mind that for search engines social and real-time is only a fraction of functionality. It can help spot trends and maybe more (with potential deal where Facebook can share people's Like ratings, and finding celebrities with more “fans”), but majority of their Core functionality is pure “Ask and Answer” research type of queries!

    Speaking of which, I wonder if anyone has actual statistics which tries to separate Trending queries versus Research queries, to show us a nice pie?

  25. @Scobleizer… What you are talking abot in google is there and has been there, Google is just waiting for all the puzzle pieces to fit..

    your sushi place? Google Sidewiki… let people know that Fuki-Sushi has the best sushi…

    then one day.. google maps will show your review..

    i'm with phikai, right now you can't find me on facebook.. or let's say you can't find my content..

    here.. try..
    http://www.facebook.com/plunkett

  26. But does Microsoft slowly steal search share from Google by employing this strategy? Can Facebook's popularity directly effect the search/ad wars or is Facebook just getting left behind as a result of this dynamic?

  27. I do not agree. I think that over time, small businesses will realize that have a public page on facebook is as valuable (more valuable) than having a twitter account. When those pages will be public, they will be automatically available to Google (that is the power of the open internet). So facebook will not sell the data. But the google traffic will still be there. I do not think that the twitter vs. facebook argument for celebrities and small businesses will be based on whose has a deal with Google.

    The key is who will offer me the best tools to feed and manage my community and it is not clear at this point to me who the winner is.

  28. I would hate for twitter searches to be integrated with traditional results. Wading through all the bull to find what I am looking for is hard enough as it is.

  29. Huge Point and well put. Here comes real time. The more we think about uses, combinations and new cool stuff that we would love to have in real time, the more “real” real time will get.

    I know the FriendFeed guys are going to help FB with its search issues…I think they already have improved. But, I agreee, the public perception of FB is fueling behavior.

  30. No one will use Google Sidewiki. It's a Firefox plugin and an ugly one at that. This list I demonstrate above? It works on my iPhone. You think Apple is gonna let Sidewiki show up there? Riiiiiggghhhttt.

  31. Sorry, Twitter has, by far, the best tools to feed and manage your community (I'm a bit biased because I have access to lists). EVERYONE has an @reply name on Twitter and it always works the same way. On Facebook? No. They are trying to add that but haven't gotten there yet.

  32. You are right: twitter has a better naming story and that is really important. But it remains a very primitive platform beyond that. I think that facebook+facebook connect will end up winning this war. You could very well be right in which case I will eat my hat and buy you a bottle of aged scotch! I hope that baby is doing well.

  33. I dont neccesarily think Facebook is the loser here. You have to give them credit for their ambition – I think they believe that they will win the personal status war. I agree with you that this is what will eventually make them the best place to look for “Sushi in Palo Alto, CA.”

    The reason they could win the personal status war, is that they have always mostly successfully focused on replicating offline relationships on the web. This is the core of their success. MySpace was/ and is now very much about music, Twitter is more business and celebrity than communicating with friends. Facebook believe they own the social graph and status is very much part of that. I dont blame them for not wanting to share it with Google.

  34. This demonstrates how you are ignorant. Twitter's lists are NOTHING like Seesmic's lists. For one, they don't just work in Seesmic. For two, I can see your lists. For three, I can see when you add me to a list (and which list you added me to). For four, they are built into Twitter's UI. For five, my lists work on my iPhone (Seesmic is not yet on an iPhone). For six, I can steal your lists. For seven, I can see who is following your lists. I could keep going.

  35. I do agree that part of Facebook user content has potential to go public, particularly status updates, and Facebook Pages for that matter are already public. But including updates in Google search may not be on high priority yet. Facebook profiles and pages already result in google search.

    But as of now, Facebook public updates are still not mainstream.

  36. This is a bit off topic, but I thought you may want to know that your post has been scraped. Check it out here.

    In case you gave them permission (they sometimes ask for it and promise to link back to your site), then you may want to know they only have the site name as plain text (and in a really tiny print at that).

  37. Great Post Robert,

    I think even with the Twitter/Google & Facebook/Bing tie ups we are still somewhat short of the true potential. I think the real goldmine will come with associating meaning with these Tweets.

    For example how will we 'know' exactly which restaurant a tweet is referring to if it's full name and address is not used? Algorithms can only go so far…what if there are more than one restaurant with that name? Imagine people being put of the wrong restaurant because of a rumour about rats crawling around is being spread. This is a story just waiting tohappen…false rumours for celebrities is one thing but it could actuallybe used maliciously against business owners (now there's a lawsuit just waiting to happen).

    The 'like' system seems to be a step in the right direction but in my mindit still isn't rich enough. For a given post why can't I filter on all users that 'liked' it. What if I want to tag something as a 'dislike'??? or other sentiment? I think there is still potentially so much more that can be done…

    What do you think?
    Nigel

  38. Great Post Robert,

    I think even with the Twitter/Google & Facebook/Bing tie ups we are still somewhat short of the true potential. I think the real goldmine will come with associating meaning with these Tweets.

    For example how will we 'know' exactly which restaurant a tweet is referring to if it's full name and address is not used? Algorithms can only go so far…what if there are more than one restaurant with that name? Imagine people being put of the wrong restaurant because of a rumour about rats crawling around is being spread. This is a story just waiting tohappen…false rumours for celebrities is one thing but it could actuallybe used maliciously against business owners (now there's a lawsuit just waiting to happen).

    The 'like' system seems to be a step in the right direction but in my mindit still isn't rich enough. For a given post why can't I filter on all users that 'liked' it. What if I want to tag something as a 'dislike'??? or other sentiment? I think there is still potentially so much more that can be done…

    What do you think?
    Nigel

  39. Gr8 summary Robert.The best i have read so far actually.

    And yeah i am ignorant but they didnt choose me as a beta tester for lists so i guess that is alrite.

    I like these lists now :)

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  42. Once again, you show how much of a blithering nincompoop you can be.

    There is exactly *one* reason I maintain *any* sort of presence on Facebook: To connect with old friends. Y'know, just like your wife does.

    I do not wish to be moved into Facebook's “Public World”. I do not wish to have anything to do with their “Cool Experiences”. Forcing such bullshit upon their userbase will make me (and countless others like me) reconsider whether or not it's worth it.

    Yes, Google may be the “prize” for businesses. What you apparently & consistently fail to realize is that “Social Media” is about PEOPLE and PEOPLE connecting. NOT business. When I'm on FB, I am there for people, not “celebrities” or businesses.

    Sounds more to me like Facebook may be (inadvertently) recognizing what the REAL value of their site is: People.