Now Twitter is gunning for Google

Now Twitter is gunning for Google
Facebook's a bigger time waster than Google

There's a new Twitter in town, with a brand new two-column interface and inline media such as photos and videos.

It looks a bit Facebook-y, but that doesn't mean Twitter's trying to take some of the social media giant's market. Like Facebook, it's going after Google

Google made its money by solving a problem: finding things on the internet. Google does a brilliant job when you know what you're looking for, but increasingly we use the internet when we don't know what we're looking for.

We go on Facebook, Twitter and so on to find interesting or amusing things from the latest viral videos to news articles or anything else that's caught people's attention.

Less Google?

What that means in practice is that Google could be becoming less important. If you've ever searched for product reviews on Google you'll know it's a hugely annoying task that involves wading through hundreds of sites to find the occasional unbiased opinion.

If you're thinking of buying a book, a microwave or a car it's often a better idea to ask the people you already know - and thanks to social media that's something you can do instantly.

It's the same with media, from news to video clips. Follow the right people on Facebook or Twitter and the media comes to you, because the people you follow post things they think others might be interested in.

As I write this my Twitter client has lots of things in it: a couple of BBC news stories, some links other TechRadar writers think are worth reading, some US news a writer I like is appalled by and some interesting blog posts.

I wouldn't have Googled for any of those things, but I'll check most of them out because I know and trust the people doing the posting.

Complementing Facebook

The new Twitter complements Facebook rather than competes with it. Facebook is primarily about publishing, whether that's publishing a status update or a photo. Twitter is more about consumption: according to founder Ev Williams, most users don't post anything at all: they use it to read others' content rather than create their own.

By making it easier to see that content, the new Twitter is designed to make users spend more time on, seeing the adverts that will inevitably surround the tweets.

Online word of mouth is becoming a very big deal. In February, Facebook overtook Google News as the fourth biggest source of traffic to media sites, just behind Google search, MSN and Yahoo.

Earlier this month we reported that US users now spend more time using Facebook than they do Google. Twitter is a smaller deal - it has around 150 million users compared to Facebook's 500 million-odd - but taken together that's still well over half a billion people who aren't getting stuff from Googling.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.