Twitter just announced it’s launching an API that will allow developers to add latitude & longitude to any tweet. There’s all sorts of funky services this could lead to such as a site that tracks the locations of Twitter spammers for people to drop nukes on and such (if they are dumb enough to opt in). But I am thinking this could be a pretty big deal for players in the local search industry for the following reasons:
1. You can map an address to a lat/lon. It’s not a perfect process but it might be good enough for a large number of addresses, particularly in suburban areas.
2. Many businesses have an address.
3. If you tweet from a business – say a bar – with the location API turned on, Twitter (or some other smart company) could map your location to a business and instantly provide users with all sorts of ancillary data about that business (e.g. address, phone number, menu, pictures of the hot waitstaff, etc.). Sounds like a yellow pages to me.
4. Additionally, Twitter (or some other smart company) could aggregate specific local business Tweets like sales & coupons – I guess the businesses would have to be Tweeting from their location – for local Twitterers to opt-in to following. So as you move from block to block you could actually start getting real time deal info. This would be really cool if you specified that you are looking for a specific product and only got localized Tweets that referred to the product. A lot of start-ups have tried to find a simple way to get businesses to promote real-time deals online. None of them were all that simple, but Twitter is.
5. Additionally, Twitter (or some other smart company) could create a map interface that would allow you to see where mobile businesses like KojiBBQ were at any given time so you could know when they are in your neighborhood without having to follow every single Tweet.
I am sure there are hundreds of other possibilities, but I have long thought that besides allowing people to broadcast from moshpits or revolutions, Twitter has a big opportunity with respect to local search. Whether they end up doing it themselves or simply ride along with other smart companies via their API remains to be seen, but if I am in the local search biz I would be watching Twitter very carefully.
They might just be the trojan horse (or bird) of local search.