The rush to incorporate real-time status updates has even hit IAC’s Citysearch. Starting today, business owners will be able to create and manage their Twitter accounts directly from a Citysearch page. A restaurant, bar or health clubs’ most recent three tweets will show up alongside their ratings, reviews and other info; Citysearch is also pulling in replies and other tweets that include the business’ Twitter handle.
Citysearch is only the latest company to work on back-end integration with Twitter: Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) and Google (NSDQ: GOOG) recently brokered data-sharing deals with the service for search, and LinkedIn also added Twitter support. For Citysearch, adding remote Twitter access is part of an ongoing effort to become the most comprehensive online resource for local businesses — particularly in the face of more competition from Yelp, and now, even Google.
“This is another way for us to help businesses manage — or even just create — their social identities, because it gives them one place to respond to reviews, update Facebook and post to Twitter,” said Kara Nortman, Citysearch’s SVP, publishing.
While there’s no financial gain for Citysearch (or Twitter) from the integration right now, Nortman hinted that the company had its eyes on a potential “premium” social media offering in the future: “Down the road, we think about rolling out enhanced features — business owners could pull content out of tweets for example, and highlight it on their page,” she said. “But we’re focused on keeping everything free right now.”
I asked Nortman about potential ad clutter — since Citysearch runs ads on its local business listings, and business owners can create sponsored tweets from third-party services like 12seconds — but she said the company had no plans to “interfere or restrict” the users’ access to Twitter. Meanwhile, she acknowledged that including tweets on business pages would have SEO benefits, particularly with the big search engines making it a point to index tweets.