Google Labs has always been the source of both functionality and fun for users of Google‘s array of properties. From its seemingly enigmatic walls, we’ve seen Google engineers push out services that range from useful features like Google Trends and Google Docs, to those that simply border on the fascinating and the twee but nevertheless nifty ones like Mail Goggles and Google Reader Play.
This week, the multiplatform Internet company has introduced a new function to its real-time Twitter search feature: the capability to “replay” to particular moments in the tweet public archives to help you search and explore it. This will pretty much cover every tweet from the microblogging service’s inception to the present, letting you backtrack as much as you like to read what exactly people are talking about in specific moments.
“With the advent of blogs and micro-blogs, there’s a constant online conversation about breaking news, people and places – some famous and some local.” said Dylan Casey, product manager for Real-Time Search on his recent post over at the Google Blog. “Tweets and other short-form updates create a history of commentary that can provide valuable insights into what’s happened and how people have reacted.”
Casey further stated that the service’s implementation is already in the works and it will be fully functional within the next few days. Though its initial release will only bring you back as far as February 11 of this year, we should expect it to eventually go all the way to that very first tweet on March 21 (sent by Twitter creator and Chairman Jack Dorsey) soon.
Despite its currently limited capabilities, Google has allowed a way to try it out. Of course, we tested it as you can see from the screenshot below.
click for a closer look
The way it works is not that much different from our normal Google search. On the search results page, you click on Show Options and then select Updates. This would normally show just the tweets that mention your search query (or in our case, “Iron Man 2”) in the center flanked by your search options to its left and the top links to the right. Note that the top portion is now being occupied by a bar graph which is Google’s “replay” feature at work.
The graph is actually a timeline of a given day and indicates the number of times Iron Man 2 has been mentioned in Twitter. Above it is a label that signifies the date of the tweets you are viewing. You can navigate further by month, day and, eventually, by year.
Note that around 1pm, the twitterverse the topic has been rather tame about the topic and then there is a spike between 1pm and 7pm and followed by a gradual rise. This spike, upon close inspection, was caused by a tweet sent out apparently around 6pm by the site Super Hero Hype linking some exciting detail about the upcoming movie.
In this regard, we can see this feature as a very useful tool; not only for individuals wanting to review past Twitter conversations, but for online marketers as well. With Twitter’s current status as the primary communication platform for most individuals and a crucial part of social media strategy, a look at the past can easily give you an insight for your brand’s future direction.
A logical way of going about this is by supplementing this feature with SEO-friendly tools such as Klout, TwitterCounter or Monittor and frequently conducting vanity searches to track your brand or campaign’s traction and beef up your reputation management approach.
If you intend to launch a marketing campaign that centers on intentionally going viral, it can definitely be a good reference. Analyzing past tweets with regards to linking, idea incubation and both user behavior and the natural flow of conversation around your brand can help you gauge the structure of your social media strategy. It will also help you determine key elements in your campaign that have proven beneficial and maybe start expanding it, or straighten up or ultimately scrap those that prove to be weighting you down.