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Jul '14

Why Keywords Do Not Cut It on Social Search

Most of the online search is keywords-based. Same in social domain, a vast number of analytical tools, networking platforms and mobile apps use keyword-based technologies as well.

There is a difference, of course, between traditional internet search and social search. The former finds websites. The latter finds conversations, messages, posts. Keyword-based internet search is doing a decent job for us for over 20 years. Keyword-based social search is not doing a decent job at all.

Consider a basic example: finding on Twitter who is interested in buying jeans. We can start by typing ‘jeans’ but that brings up too much noise. Maybe ‘need jeans’? Less noise but then we  people who use expressions like ‘looking for jeans’ or ‘want jeans’ or shopping for jeans’. Not to mention those who use ‘denim’, or brand names. So we have to run multiple searches or create a complex search string using logical AND and OR and hope it works. Neither option is simple, or convenient, and certainly not efficient.

The above example highlights the major flaw with keyword search - it does not capture the meaning of social conversations, and therefore cannot be a reliable source of information about conversations.

It does not provide too much of correct information. And it does provide lots of incorrect information. But the biggest problem is that it has extremely limited potential for improvement.  

So as long as we stick with keyword-based social search the results are destined to be limited.

Why, then, we stick with keyword-based search in social search? Simply because there is no good alternative. Until recently, that is.  

The advanced semantic technologies capable of capturing the meaning, or intent, of conversations are now offering an exciting alternative.

I will discuss these technologies on my next blog.