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.

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8 Response Comments

  • Ian  August 20, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    This is great, but releasing lng/lat into the wild cries out for a geocoding service–coordinates are ok to show on a map, but reverse geocoding (“translate -41.343443, 67.32244345 into something I can understand, like an address”) does much more–you could associate the lng/lat to proximate businesses, other tweeters, nearest subway station, neighborhood name and more. and yeah, urban mapping can help you make that happen

  • Doug  August 21, 2009 at 7:21 am

    Andrew, good scoop!

    I just do not see the lat long based dynamic coupon as the Holy Grail of local search the way everyone else does.

    Is that all the internet has to offer? Coupons?

    It is free and easy to deliver coupons on the internet. That means the possible vendors for coupon based adverting are unlimited. Imagine if 20,000 editions of Clipper showed up on your doorstep. Would you look through and compare everyone to find the deal.

    So my question is:
    With the prospect of 20,000+ different local-mobile based coupons out there for a free appetizer if you just flash the coupon on your smartphone, when does that smart phone coupon get replaced with “just show a phone and get a free appetizer” and make the whole exercise worthless?

  • twitter  August 21, 2009 at 7:23 am

    Its good yeah its nice knowledge thanks for sharing it. I liked it.

  • Andrew Shotland  August 21, 2009 at 9:09 am

    Ah Doug, everybody loves a cynic. As a professional optimistic cynic I might counter your point with the fact that in order for me to walk into your biz and present the phone I have to know about your biz first. So this whole broadcast your deal thing can help businesses get noticed ideally at a time when the user is open to the message.

    Re the Clipper thing, again I think it comes down to hitting the user at the right time on the right platform. When I get those coupon things on my doorstep or in the mail they usually go into either a drawer or the garbage. And the cost to get those messages to me is not cheap. With a platform like Twitter or FaceFeed or whatever, the cost of delivery/targeting is so low even a caveman can do it.

    This lat/lon thing may all be just a big who cares but it seems to me to be a potentially huge step towards taking the middle man (Google, IYPs, etc.) out of the equation and making it really easy for customers and businesses to connect with each other.

    And I am leaving that spammy comment above this on up because a)it has a good keyword in it and b) the spammer really knows how to play to a blogger’s ego.

  • Doug  August 21, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    I didn’t mean to come off as a cynic..that’s not me at all.

    Coupons will sell the concept of local-targeted-dynamic-content, but it ill be used in better ways.

    Right now when I sit in a restaurant, I can quickly search the iphone for a coupon. But, I have to look for it. When every search engine and local advertising .com is delivering these coupons, I will only have to walk through the door. Now every time I eat it is 10% off or whatever. That was my point. It, in my little opinion the targeted coupon spam is not a sustainable model. The price will be so cheap, based on how the web works now, that everyone may advertise with anyone. Thanks for making my point there, the cost of those print ads is all that keeps you from waking up with a dumpster full on your doorstep.

    There are more promising models for the lat-long info.

    Will we be able to tweet lat-long of speed traps:) and likewise get a tweet as we approach one tweeted by another.

    and , if the restaurant is tweeting you, aren’t you are already aware of them. How do they get the coupon to someone they do not already have as a fan or customer.
    But good article,
    I am all for that technology, I even keep trying to buy it. So far no one has offered me anything other than another way to spam someone.


  • Andrew Shotland  August 21, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    I am thinking Twitter or some other smart company will create some sort of opt-in service for users to follow that will limit the overload factor by charging businesses to be in the stream.

    So you are following the service that helps you discover the business, not the individual business itself.

  • Laurent  February 3, 2010 at 9:19 pm

    At we are datamining twitter to find local events people talk about. In addition, we’re automatically finding where they happen and when.
    You can then find all “wine tasting” happenings in a given location, for example

    It’s not perfect sometimes because finding out where the event happens based on the tweet text is noisy or ambiguous, but it’s for now all we can use because relying on the geo location set in the tweet (if any, many tweeters don’t turn this on) is not actually better: you might be tweeting about an event happening far away from your current location.

  • Kelly  May 30, 2010 at 8:48 am

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