It's no secret that Twitter has been mostly centered on a "push" mentality – throw enough out there and something will stick, and you'll gain followers in the mean time. Of course, the more followers you have the better chance of something sticking, or being shared. And, the cycle goes on. But things are about to change. Twitter is on its way to becoming a "pull" interaction – just like another world-famous website, Google.
If you think about Google like a social network, the similarities are clear. As a Google "publisher" your goal is to be listed and get the attention of others. When successful, your content is shared via syndication and links. As a Google "user" you're there to find information, through search. When you find something you like, you might link to that website, bookmark the page or subscribe to the site's RSS feed or e-mail newsletter. In other words, you become a "follower" of that website. But imagine if you were to "friend" every website as the result of a search ... you would quickly become overwhelmed. Now take all of that and apply it to Twitter. It's not much different.
But the real kicker is Twitter's new advertising system of sponsored trending topics and searches. Now, when you visit Twitter you will see a sponsored trending topic at the bottom of that section (at right). And when you search Twitter, you'll find sponsored tweets at the top. Sound familiar?
Right now, it's rumored that these sponsorships cost in the tens of thousands of dollars. You can bet that with that kind of money, advertisers are going to do everything they can to get their money's worth. That will result in heavy promotion of Twitter search – bringing more clicks to the advertiser and big bucks to Twitter. Twitter search is ready for prime time.
While sponsored trends and tweets might not be attainable for the average business yet it's difficult to imagine that, after some initial testing, not every business will be invited to take part. When that happens, Twitter could take another page from Google's master playbook – a bidding system of keywords and phrases for top positions on Twitter search.
Take note of this development. And in the mean times, start optimizing your Tweets. Use keywords and phrases (and trending topic terms when appropriate), hashtags, aim for retweets and make influential friends. The more you can brand your Twitter account and keywords with users, the better prepared you will be when competitors start buying your keywords for Twitter search. Also, have a look at the image below. The top result is a sponsored tweet. The third result is not, but marked as a "Top Tweet." Why? Because the advertisement has been picked up and spread as a non-paid tweet – with one click – by thousands of other users. That's something Google doesn't do.