A new partnership between Citysearch and Twitter offers some clues about what Twitter’s long-awaited paid accounts for businesses might look like.
Citysearch announced Monday that it will provide the businesses on its site a few tools to help them make use of Twitter — and said that more tools would be coming soon, including some that sound a lot like what Twitter has repeatedly said it will offer businesses for a fee.
Businesses will now be able to write tweets from their Citysearch page and create a Twitter account from Citysearch’s Web site, the first time it has been possible to sign up for Twitter without going to Twitter.com.
“We’re excited about it because it’s a step to demystify Twitter, to help small businesses get on from a site they’re comfortable with,” said Kara Nortman, senior vice president of publishing at Citysearch. Many of the types of businesses that appear on Citysearch have been using Twitter as a marketing tool.
Citysearch will also incorporate tweets about a business into its profile page, so people reading about a restaurant, for example, will be able to see what people have recently tweeted about it. Though people can review businesses on Citysearch, they generally do not do so as actively as they do on Yelp, Citysearch’s competitor, so this will be a way to bring more of the customer’s perspective onto Citysearch.
Citysearch wants to become a directory of social media listings, Ms. Nortman said, so that any time someone is looking for a business’s Twitter or Facebook page, for example, they can find it on Citysearch. That will also be useful on Citysearch’s mobile application, because people who want to tweet about a restaurant or bar while they are out can easily find the business’s Twitter name.
Perhaps more intriguing, Ms. Nortman said that Citysearch’s new offerings are the first step in a plan to offer small businesses a bunch of information to help them “understand when and how and where their business is being talked about, across the Web.” This will include analysis of what people are saying and whether the sentiments are positive or negative.
That matches up with what Twitter’s co-founders have said Twitter will eventually do, and Ms. Nortman confirmed that the two companies have discussed doing this together. “Our conversations have involved that as a next stage in the partnership,” she said. “They’ll be offering corporate services through their partners.”
Evan Williams, Twitter’s co-founder and chief executive, recently told me something similar, although he suggested that any partnerships wouldn’t be exclusive.
So far, when Twitter has released a new feature, like location-aware tweets or Lists, it has made the technology available to all third-party developers building Twitter applications through the API.
When Twitter unveils commercial accounts, it will do the same thing, Mr. Williams said.
“We don’t plan to do everything, and we plan to offer an API for everything we do,” he said. “It’s the same thing with anything commercial –- it will be a platform for other people to build upon and make money as well.”