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Mentioning the word “tweeting” used to mean you were talking about birds. Not anymore. Twitter has helped revolutionize how information is disseminated. In an age of 24-hour cable news channels, it is through personal “tweets” that people find out information on news they want to have immediately. When Sully landed his plane on theHudson, Twitter had the first pictures. Even before the major news outlets announced it, Twitter subscribers were mourning Michael Jackson’s death.

Because Twitter is proving invaluable for persons who like “real-time” information, businesses are trying to figure out how best to capitalize on this new information highway. Google and Microsoft, two companies with proven records for making money, have deals to tie Twitter into their search engines. But the revenue earned from search engines exists because they allow people to organize the vast amounts of information available online. How can tweets possibly produce such revenues?

If an advertiser can connect immediately to a consumer who tweets, “looking for a hotel in Maui,” —it will pay handsomely. Other examples would be tweets about snow conditions which could connect those consumers to ski resorts; someone that complains about their cellphone coverage could be connected with a different cellphone provider. These are all opportunities for revenue creation, but the majority of tweets are from consumers that are opinions or thoughts and not for commercial purposes.

According to Google and Microsoft, the revenue appeal of Twitter is not the same as that of their search engines. Rather, they believe that if they are to be dominant and comprehensive in the field of information search, they need Twitter.

Discussion Questions:

1. Do you use Twitter, and why?

2.Would you like your posts to show up in Google searches?

Miguel Helft, “How High Will Real-Time Search Fly?” The New York Times, October 25, 2009.

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