#TwitterSearch: A Comparison of Microblog Search and Web Search

Proceedings of WSDM 2011 |

Published by ACM

Social networking Web sites are not just places to maintain relationships; they can also be valuable information sources. However, little is known about how and why people search socially-generated content. In this paper we explore search behavior on the popular microblogging/social networking site Twitter. Using analysis of large-scale query logs and supplemental qualitative data, we observe that people search Twitter to find temporally relevant information (e.g., breaking news, real-time content, and popular trends) and information related to people (e.g., content directed at the searcher, information about people of interest, and general sentiment and opinion). Twitter queries are shorter, more popular, and less likely to evolve as part of a session than Web queries. It appears people repeat Twitter queries to monitor the associated search results, while changing and developing Web queries to learn about a topic. The results returned from the different corpora support these different uses, with Twitter results including more social chatter and social events, and Web results containing more basic facts and navigational content. We discuss the implications of these findings for the design of next-generation Web search tools that incorporate social media.