May 15, 2007

Will Twitter become a nightmare for companies ?

Companies have to keep an eye on what's happening on the Internet regarding the image and the reputation of the companies and their products and services. With the arrival of Twitter, a site allowing people to publish short text messages, new challenges lie ahead for online repuration management.

Currently the total number of short messages published on Twitter is estimated at 6 million (according to John Kottke). A distinction has to be made between public messages, open to everyone, and private messages, exchanged between registered users directly or from private accounts. According to the weekly statistics published by Twitterment, over 150.000 new public Twitter messages are published every day.

>>> How can I search if the company I represent is being talked about on Twitter ?

Twitter does not offer possiblities to search the Twitosphere. Google has currently indexed over 700.000 pages from Other mainstream search engines (e.g. or Yahoo) have indexed fewer pages. Blogsearch engines such as Technorati do not seem very active regarding indexing Twitter messages. Different initiatives have been started in the Twitter area. Most of these initiatives focus on creating and reading messages. Luckily for people concerned with reputation management, a few initiatives allow to search the Twitosphere. At this moment the largest index of Twitter messages can be found at Twitterment. As of today, Twitterment has indexed 1,2 million Twitter messages. Other buzz tracking tools for the Twitosphere can be found in a previous post on this blog. Most of these buzz tracking tools have only a limited memory of a couple of days.

>>> How can I detect if there are links from Twitter messages to the site(s) of the company I represent ?

Because Twitter messages are restricted to 140 characters, URLs are very often replaced by short URLs generated by URL shortening services such as TinyURL. URL shortening services generate shorter URLs, freeing up characters for other content. The disadvantage is that it is not clear for a reader to which site a short URL is pointing to. If a webmaster of a company website detects incoming web traffic from, it is almost impossible to detect from which specific Twitter messages the visitors are coming from, especially if a short URL is used. If the reference is made from a private message between two users or from messages from a private account, it is definitely impossible to retrace the message. Search engines such as Google offer the possibility to search for links ( Because the links are disguised as short URLs, these seach engines will not be of great help in finding links from Twitter messages.

I have the impression that tools for online reputation management for the twitosphere are still lacking or are immature. Hopefully companies will find solutions for the challenges mentioned above.

1 comment:

Pvw said...

We are advising companies to block Twitter from their network. I regret this as I am a Twitter user myself, but I guess from a productivity and security point of view, this is normal decision until Twitter will have proven his business value.