Two weeks ago, I read on Hubspot that the missing Google Realtime Search would be returning soon, but powered by Google+ rather than Twitter.
Colour me suprised.
This got me thinking about Twitter vs. Google+ for realtime, what’s-happening-now updates. Both integrate nicely into mobile apps, where you want someone tweeting or posting about up-to-the-instant events. Both are easy to update. But there is one big difference you can’t igore.

140 characters forced you to focus

The biggest difference is length of the message. Twitter, of course, if famous for its 140 character limit. Google+, as far as I can tell, is unlimited. Sounds great at first, but how many times have you re-written a tweet to make it fit until only the essential keywords remained?
Twitter forces you to focus.
With unlimited space on Google+, you can  ramble as much as you want before making a point. For search, this could mean that unnecessary words will be competing with keywords in search results for what’s happening at that moment.
Now, take a look at Twitscoop and sometimes the most random flotsam floats to the top, but Twitter’s focused nature helps keywords come to the fore when they are in wide-spread use.

Saying more, less often on Google+

Plus, since Twitter needed you to be brief, people posted brief messages—“Just landed at the airport”, “Was that an earthquake?”, “Band just took the stage.” But because you were saying less, you might tweet more often—”Building shaking. #scared”, “Told to evacuate. Others coming out of other buildings.”, “Sirens in downtown. Walking south.” This constant stream of up-to-the-instant information allows a realtime search to determine what’s happening.
So far, what I am seeing on Google+ are longer message but less frequently. It seems because you can say more, you will, but only when you have something more complex and lengthy to say. This “wait until I have something to say” attitude might not work well for realtime search.

Hashtags on Google+?

I don’t know if Google took hashtags into consideration when ranking realtime search, but all but the most basic Twitter user understands their importance. The shorthand and syntax that evolved in Twitter’s has not appeared in the more natural language on Google+. Since hashtags provide a great way to add context to a tweet, might Google+ be missing out on some semantic information that could fuel its search algorithms?