Twitter Search or Instagram Search: Which is Better for Business?

08/22/2016

Recently I was chatting with long time BBF, Paul Chaney, about the changes in social media from the days when we began in what was then called The Blogosphere. Paul wondered if search on Twitter or Instagram could be a good business tool.

He kindly offered to share his views and research on Diva Marketing. How could I say no to such a generous offer? Hope you enjoy Paul's post.

Paul Chaney _pianoFirst, About Paul Chaney. 

Paul is an online marketing consultant, editor, writer, and author with more than 20 years experience in the digital marketing space.

He’s written four books that cover the topics of business blogging, social media marketing, and social commerce, the most notable of which is entitled "The Digital Handshake: Seven Proven Strategies to Grow Your Business Using Social Media," published by John Wiley and Sons in 2009.

He is currently a Staff Writer for Small Business Trends and also maintains a client-base of small to mid-size companies. Paul is a sought-after speaker on digital and marketing topics. Oh yes, and he's an accomplished musician! Connect with Paul Chaney on Twitter | LinkedIn 

Twitter Search or Instagram Search: Which is Better for Business? - By Paul Chaney

One of the ways I've benefitted most from my career in social media is the people I have met along the way, not the least of which is Toby. We're joined at the hip personally and professionally and have been for the better part of 12 years.

Another good friend — someone familiar to both Toby and me — is Bill Flitter, founder and CEO of dlvr.it, a content distribution platform.

Bill pioneered RSS advertising years ago and, despite his boyish good looks (which belie his clean Midwestern upbringing), is a long-time veteran of the social media marketing wars. (I'm sure he would show you his scars if you ask; or possibly not.)

Twitter Search or Instagram Search? That Is the Question

The reason I mention Bill is, recently, I was milling about on the dlvr.it blog when I came across a post about Twitter search and then another about Instagram search.

I can't tell you the last time I thought about either of the two platforms, at least in a search-related context — particularly Instagram, which I use to post images taken with my smartphone from time to time.

I also wondered why Bill and company would devote entire posts to the respective topics. There must have been a reason. My interest was piqued.

With Twitter's waning popularity, compared to Instagram's rise in prominence, I began to wonder which platform would serve a business better, from a search standpoint. As it turns out, that was Bill's premise, too.

With his permission, I pulled some information from each post, to evaluate their respective features and benefits and draw some conclusions.

Twitter Search

First of all, Twitter "Connect" (which you see referenced in the dlvr.it post) no longer exists. It was an experiment that failed, apparently, replaced by "Notifications."

Regardless, the real benefit to Twitter search for business lies in its "Advanced" feature, which allows more refined search capabilities, such as multiple search filters and operators

(Note: You have to be logged in to gain access to advanced search, and it only works with the desktop version.)

To use advanced search, begin by entering a keyword in the search field located in the upper right-hand corner of the page. Let’s use “small business” as our example.

Twitter then redirects you to the search returns page. Click the “More Options” link in the menu bar. That opens a sub-menu. Look to the bottom and click “Advanced Search.”

Paul post 8_16 figure1-twitter-advanced-search

As the following screenshot from the dlvr.it blog post illustrates, you can search by various parameters: words, people, places, dates, and even sentiment. Options exist under each category, to let you dig even deeper.

Paul post 8_16 figure2-dlvrit-Twitter-Search-Advanced-Search

From the example, a pizza shop owner in San Jose, California can find Twitter users within a ten-mile radius who have pizza on the brain at a given moment.

This discovery enables the owner to join in the conversation, perhaps offering a time-sensitive discount tied to a hashtag. And that's only one of the many possibilities advanced search offers from a marketing perspective.

Others include:

  • Find mentions of your brand;
  • Surface all tweets from an event you attended;
  • Gather customer testimonials;
  • Monitor sentiment about a competitor's brand (or yours);
  • Find influencers or brand ambassadors;
  • Thank customers for doing business with you.

Truly, the list is as endless as your ability to come up with crafty ways to mine the treasure trove of data.

For more inspiration and ways to use advanced search, visit Twitter's support page on the topic.

Instagram Search

Where Twitter's advanced search gives users the ability to refine their efforts, Instagram restricts the search options on its app to Top, People, Tags, and Places.

Paul post 8_16 figure3-instagram-search

Of the four, Tags is likely the best option because Instagram bases its platform on them. (Post an image or video without using a hashtag? Perish the thought!)

Perhaps the best way to use Instagram search is not to use it at all but rely on third-party tools such as Picodash, or my favorite, Iconosquare. Both are premium services but offer more advanced search capabilities than Instagram itself.

Despite the limited search functions, you can make a business case for Instagram.

You can use it to:

  • Find people to follow;
  • Find hashtags related to your business or industry;
  • Search by place for people to follow;
  • Engage with nearby customers;
  • Get involved in trending conversations.

In comparing the two platforms, Twitter provides a superior search experience in my view due to the many variables and operators. Instagram, however, offers a more serendipitous journey of discovery.

In either case, there's business value to be had — and that’s the main thing. 

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Comments

Another fan of iconosquare. I need to check it out. I have been working with InsTrack which I really enjoy.

Posted by: Sue Duris on Aug 30, 2016 5:32:17 PM

Hi Sue! Thanks for adding another resource.

Posted by: Toby on Aug 31, 2016 10:34:23 AM

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