Since many of us first connected to people and information online, we’ve witnessed massive transformations in the ways we connect. ReSearch.ly is a new site that offers interesting–and sometimes curious and puzzling–ways of experiencing content from Twitter.
ReSearch.ly’s premise is that “search is a social act which relies on trust and community.” Developed by the folks behind PeopleBrowsr, ReSearch.ly creates “instant communities” around the things you publish, respond to, or search while you use Twitter. Your searches become “sharable objects” and the site purports to add context to your searches by providing additional related information–all from tweets on Twitter.
The site provides what they refer to as “degrees” of access to, and filtering of, information:
- Geo Search. This is a local or regional search of the Twitter community that can increase relevant results, such as places to go for an evening out.
- Local Trending Retweets. By seeing what others are retweeting, you can see what’s popular, and immediately participate in conversations of interest.
- Your Community Search. You can search your Twitter stream for specific niche communities, and filter out less relevant conversations.
- Search Within Search: You can drill deeper within a particular search by, for example, adding geo-searching to a topic-based community search.
- Degrees of Separation. This is an analysis of your web of networks: who is connected to you and to other Twitter users.
- Related Search. This allows you to enhance your search by providing other relevant information such as related hashtags, links or @ references.
- Share Your Search. You can share your search, and make the way you are compiling and experiencing information into a social activity.
The premise of ReSearch.ly seems reasonable and potentially useful: When you search for tweets, you’ll be able to get more context to the content of interest. For a first-time user, the reality may be a bit confusing.
I tested the site by searching for “Napa” because I’m going to Napa Valley soon. By viewing search results through the Global filter, I quickly learned that “napa” is a word in Indonesian. But when I narrowed down results to my Twitter community (my followers or people I’m following), I begin to see much more relevance: reviews of Napa wines, mentions of Napa hotels, and tweets about Napa Valley events. I was able to narrow results to only male or only female Twitterers, only positive or only negative tweets, or only retweets. I could also click on the United States tab to get a broader view of who was tweeting “Napa.”
When I hovered over a person’s tweet, a “Degrees of Separation” link appeared. Clicking on that link showed the path between me and that particular Twitterer–how I might be connected to that user and, by extrapolation, how much I might be able to trust him or her. Based on the information I discovered, I could opt to follow individual Twitterers.
Search results also included charts showing global use of “napa” in the past 7 and 30 days. I could view the “Sentiment” for the word, and its popularity. I could also see words surrounding the original search term, such as “valley” and “wine,” but also “napas” and other words in Indonesian. Below that, I could see the most tweeted links where Napa was mentioned, related hashtags including #wine and #loveindonesia, and @ names referenced in tweets mentioning “napa.”
After that, there were images of pictures and videos where “napa” was mentioned, including wine-related images, plus random images where I couldn’t discern the context. They could have shown up because “napa” has other meanings internationally. A quick tweet to my followers revealed it’s short for “kanapa,” meaning “why.” So I learned something, but not directly from ReSearch.ly.
I’m all for slicing and dicing search results in new ways. At first blush, I found the results from ReSearch.ly to be curious. But ReSearch.ly is billed as a social search platform for “online marketers, brand managers and social media experts” that provides demographic data, psychographics, and instant viral analytics, along with location, gender, and retweets. I saw the location, gender and retweets data, but I didn’t immediately see how the information would help me as an online marketer, brand manager or social media expert.
I did another search for “SXSW” and the results were more relevant, most likely because SXSW is a much more distinctive term. The breakdown of the search results, however, didn’t seem particularly useful. Then again, I was searching not as a marketer or social media expert, just as someone thinking about attending the SXSW 2011 Interactive conference. I did discover when adding “Interactive” to the search that there are SXSW Interactive events in other cities happening in January. Now that’s interesting.
In conclusion, the service is complex enough that users may need more help from the company. You’ll need to decide whether the value of ReSearch.ly’s “social search” goes beyond mere curiosity by adding social pathways and context to search results.
What are some of your experiences with “social search” so far?