Why The Google-Twitter Partnership Matters to You


Earlier this year, Google announced a partnership with Twitter in which tweets will be indexed in Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs). The deal rekindled a previous relationship the two companies had in which Google’s search engine crawled through Twitter but only posted a fraction of total content on Twitter. Google/Twitter 2.0 will feature the search engine capturing the entire “firehose” of tweets, estimated to be pumped out at a rate of 9,000 per second. When the deal was revealed in February, indexing was said to begin during the first half of this year. An announcement by Twitter on May 19 shared that relevant tweets were now appearing in Google search results on Android and iOS devices for U.S. users with the desktop version to follow soon.

What’s the Big Deal?

The return of tweets to Google’s search results is a win for Twitter in that it boosts the relevance of the social network. According to Search Engine Land, the percentage of Twitter users visiting the site daily dropped from 46% in 2013 to 36% in 2013. Brands seeking greater exposure might be enticed to intensify their Twitter efforts for the potential payoff of appearing in Google search results. An implication of this motive for brands to be more active on Twitter is that they should be more intentional about the content of their tweets. An SEO mindset will be beneficial to Twitter content strategy , with tweets being optimized to consider consumer search and intent. In effect, the organic reach of tweets is enhanced when relevant content posted on Twitter shows up on SERPs.

Making Your Twitter Presence Google-Friendly

If your Twitter activity has been stuck in a rut or lacking in focus, the indexing of tweets on Google’s search engine should prompt you to rethink Twitter’s role in your marketing communications strategy. Here are three tips for taking advantage of the Google-Twitter partnership and making your Twitter activity work for you in Google’s search engine:

  1. Be Relevant– As mentioned earlier, the Google-Twitter partnership should cause a shift in how content creation is viewed. Tweets act more like a landing page than short, pithy statements or merely linking to other content. What you post on Twitter will need to be optimized to make it appealing to audiences. That approach should have always been used; greater incentive now exists to make content more relevant to users rather than focusing a brand’s talking points.
  2. Be Active– The benefit of Google indexing Twitter content is also proportional to the activity level to which a brand commits. The first step to take is post consistently to your account. A study conducted by VentureBeat of 1,600 brands over a nine-day period found 47 percent of the brands had no activity during that period. Conversely, a study by Simply Measured of brands with 100,000 or more Twitter followers found that a vast majority of them (92%) posted 12 times or more daily. Your tweets won’t be seen if there are none to be seen! But, don’t forget point #1- content must be relevant to be indexed as well as to be valued by searchers.
  3. Be Engaging– The stakes for engaging with followers rise under the Google-Twitter partnership. The more interactive the communication is with your community, it could in turn be shared and favorited, extending its reach on Twitter. These actions could be interpreted by Google as signals that the content is useful or interesting , increasing chances that a brand’s tweets will be seen by more searchers on Google.

Do You Have a Twitter Strategy?

The Google-Twitter partnership means that it is more important than ever to have a strategy for using Twitter. Vanity metrics like number of followers take a back seat to relevance metrics such as retweets, favorites, and user engagement. Despite the promise of impact from tweets appearing in Google search results, some aspects of using Twitter are unchanged.

The main consideration still is whether Twitter is a useful channel for reaching your target market. If your customers and other stakeholders are not Twitter users, then the changes brought about by the Google-Twitter partnership will do little to help your brand. But, if Twitter is already a part of your social media strategy it would be worthwhile to revisit how it is being used and how can the Google-Twitter deal can become a good deal for your business.

Information is Gold for Advertisers

Information is like gold – you mine it, sift it, and hope that you find nuggets that pay off. For marketers, obtaining feedback from customers and others is the equivalent of prospecting for gold. It can be hard to obtain, it may contain junk that is worthless, but it is a quest that we must pursue because of the potential benefits. The challenge is how to gain valued insights without being intrusive.

The need for information should not be lost on any business that sells audience access. Mass media advertising, event sponsorships, and social network sites are channels in which the properties selling ads or sponsorships should look to enhance value by providing their partners with opportunities to mine for gold – collect market research data. An example of how advertisers can be given added value through market research capabilities is Twitter’s new survey feature. Twitter is giving some of its top advertisers access to users by allowing them to invite users to take a brief survey. The feedback advertisers receive will enable them to evaluate their Twitter ad campaigns and adjust tactics as needed.

If you are selling marketing real estate such as advertising space, you hold a valuable asset. Add value to that asset by enabling your advertising partners to tap the channel to collect information from your audience. Information is like gold; help advertisers with their gold mining efforts by giving them tools to collect information from your audience.

All Things D – “Twitter Rolls Out Surveys – And Reminds Us Why It Cares about ‘Consistent User Experiences'”

The Potential of #YourMessage

One of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving is the buffet of college football rivalry games. Among the must see games for me is the Egg Bowl, pitting Mississippi State (my undergrad alma mater) against Ole Miss. This year’s game was a treat to watch as State thumped Ole Miss 31-3, but as a self-proclaimed marketing geek I was even happier about the recognition State received for its social media innovation.

The acclaim Mississippi State received before and during the game was its integration of Twitter into the game, painting #Hail State in one of the end zones. The nod to Twitter, along with replacing players’ names on the backs of jerseys with “Hail State” (the name of the school’s fight song), garnered media attention and created a buzz among fans and viewers watching the game on ESPNU. One estimate put the number of tweets including the #HailState hashtag at more than 1,000 during the game alone. While that figure pales in comparison to the buzz generated by breaking news or celebrity gossip, the idea to weave social media into the game production was a genius move by Mississippi State’s marketing staff.

While #HailState was an innovative tactic for college football, the bigger question it raises for marketers is what is the true potential of engaging people via Twitter? As I watched the game and unfolding conversation on Twitter, I considered the possibilities for hashtag marketing. A few examples of how Twitter can be incorporated into existing marketing efforts:

• Addition of Twitter search terms in print and digital ads- Just as including a website address is common copy, inserting a Twitter search term would be a way to drive people to brand conversations.
• Twitter search terms that are based on ad slogans or product traits- Do not limit creation of search terms to company or brand name.
• Connecting to other IMC tactics – Twitter search terms can link an audience to a brand’s sports sponsorship or support of a nonprofit organization. Connecting social media with sponsorship enables telling of the brand story by reaching audiences may be difficult to access with sponsorship alone.

The three examples merely scratch the surface of how Twitter can be integrated into current marketing campaigns. Social media does not replace existing communication channels; it enhances them by encouraging the audience’s involvement in the communication process. Of course, this idea loses its effectiveness if the landscape becomes a sea of hashtags. Be strategic in communication of #YourMessage. If you encourage people to embed your term in their messages, there must be significance or meaning to the conversation you seek to create. Otherwise, your Twitter efforts may be described with a common hashtag: #Fail.

The Commercial Appeal – “MSU Athletic Director Hopes to Score with End Zone Hashtag”

Leash and Muzzle: Social Media Program Tools?

One of the great characteristics of social media is that it gives a voice to brands. Interaction with customers and other people enables brands to shed their impersonal, aloof nature. Rather than talk at people using mass media channels, social media lets brands and people talk with each other. The unbridled communication exchanges bring transparency to business relationships. But, are there limits to how personal and frank brand representatives should be in social media?

This question has arisen again after a vice president with the New York Giants engaged in candid exchanges with fans upset with the team’s offseason personnel moves. Pat Hanlon did not pull punches in his replies to fans’ criticism of the Giants. Some of his tweets this week (@giantspathanlon) include:

“We don’t play on paper. You know what you can do w/ that paper?” His reply to a fan’s tweet: “on paper they ARE worse. no matter who signs your checks”

“This is great. We usually get to play two regular season games before people tell us we aren’t worth a shit.”

“Can you say we’re worse, knucklehead?” His reply to a fan’s tweet: ”can you say definitively the Giants are better than last year?”

Entertaining banter between Hanlon and Giants fans (and probably some Giants haters), but is this the best use of social media to engage people and build a brand? Can you imagine what would happen if this were the vice president of communications for Walmart getting into it with customers or special interest advocates criticizing the company? The executive would likely be reprimanded or even fired. No signs of either happening to Pat Hanlon.

Would it be better if Pat Hanlon bit his lip (or put his hands in his pockets) and refrain from responding to criticisms of his employer? Let the team’s performance on the field do the talking, with the ideal being Hanlon having the opportunity to gloat when the Giants have a great season. Social media provides a forum for listening to what people have to say about your brand- good, bad, and otherwise. But, listening can be difficult if social media is used as a platform for challenging people who are critical or oppose you.

When it comes to social media communication strategy, a figurative leash and muzzle can be valuable tools for resisting the urge to “discuss” issues in public. Listen and learn, but avoid the urge to lash out.

3 Reasons Why Twitter Won’t Die

Depending on who you ask, Twitter’s announcement this week that it will launch an advertising model that features “promoted tweets” in search results is:

A. a much needed source of revenue to make Twitter financially viable
B. the beginning of the end for Twitter

Which one is it? There are strong opinions for each option. I subscribe to A. Twitter has to go beyond trendy and a channel for celebrity-crazed fans to follow their heroes and heroines. That next step is becoming profitable. The promoted tweets model is about as subtle of an integration of advertising that Twitter could implement.

I believe Twitter has a sound future, and it has nothing to do with its business model. The keys to Twitter’s long-term success are rooted in human nature. Here are three reasons why Twitter users will continue to chronicle their lives in 140 characters or less:

1. People like to talk about themselves – Whether it is sharing what is for lunch, bragging on family, or engaging in self-promotion, we enjoy being the focal point of conversation. Twitter is a digital megaphone for spreading the word on #1.

2. People like others to know what they are doing – Closely related to reason #1, many people want to share their life experiences with persons in their network. We can’t help ourselves; when we do something unique or exciting, we want to share it. If we see a move we’d rather forget, we want our followers to know that, too, in the hope we help someone avoid making the same mistake.

3. People are curious about other people – One way to manage our psyche is to use the experiences of others as a frame of reference. For example, if someone thinks he is an expert on fantasy football, he may follow known fantasy football experts and analysts via Twitter to keep tabs on what the top “brands” in fantasy football are saying. It could be a college freshman wanting to connect with an attractive co-ed from biology lab or a star-crossed celebrity watcher who can’t get enough tweets from Chad Ochocinco or Brittany Spears. In both cases, Twitter gives us a channel for answering that familiar question to the service’s users: What’s happening?

Ads or no ads, Twitter users will continue to keep tabs on the users they follow and tout their accomplishments – major, minor, and even the inconsequential.

Winning the Twitter Popularity Contest

Growth in the microblogging website Twitter has been astounding. It is estimated that more than 7 million unique visitors a month use Twitter, and total Twitter users will grow by 200% for 2009. Twitter represents an early market opportunity for individuals and businesses that want to establish a presence and following in this social media space. And, there appears to be a payoff for those able to attract a large following. According to research by Rapleaf, Twitter users with the largest followings tend to experience the greatest increases in followers. As new users adopt Twitter, many of them follow users with the large numbers of followers. In short, the popular become more popular.

The Rapleaf study compared three groups of Twitter users based on their number of followers: the top 0.1%, the top 1% and the top 10%. The average number of followers jumped 275% between March and June of this year for the top 0.1% compared to gains of 146% for the top 1% and 126% for the top 10%. These findings suggest that the payoff for establishing a highly visible Twitter presence may be greatest for those that have already arrived.

Twitter users not in the upper echelons of popularity could become disheartened by the survey numbers. Not so fast! These numbers are primarily a measure of popularity (how many followers can I garner). In the long-run, relevant content will be important in retaining followers. Growing a following on Twitter is beneficial for brand building, but for any brand the ultimate measure is how well the brand delivers on a regular basis.

eMarketer Daily – “Twitter Power Users Solidify Dominance”

ESPN’s Twitter Dilemma

ESPN has experienced multiple facets of the impact of the microblogging web site Twitter. One facet of Twitter is that it provides a channel for ESPN personalities to communicate with followers. The result is the “talking heads” became more personable to people who watch ESPN programs on TV and follow the personalities who have a presence on Twitter. Another facet of Twitter ESPN experienced is a rapid outcry from users when word came out about a new ESPN policy that apparently restricted the freedoms of ESPN employees on social networking web sites like Twitter. Criticism was swift and harsh for ESPN.

The situation at ESPN is one that is indicative of challenges arising from the emergence of new media. Social networking sites are a new channel of communication, one in which the level of interactivity is vastly different from ESPN’s customary one-way broadcasting to its audiences. The potential benefits to ESPN of fans and ESPN personalities engaging in two-way exchanges of information cannot be overlooked. Creating associations with ESPN as the source for sports entertainment information and content is a very lucrative incentive for ESPN and its employees to have a strong presence in social media.

But, one must not lose sight of the fact that ESPN is a brand, one with a great deal of equity in the marketplace. It is incumbent on protectors of a brand as strong as ESPN to take steps to safeguard it. While the guidelines the company has established for social networking use sound very “corporate,” they are probably a necessary step to make explicit the role of social networking for the company. ESPN and its personalities will continue to have a presence on social networks, the change going forward is that the company has established guidelines for employees’ use of social media and connecting it to overarching concerns of protecting brand equity.

Mashable – “ESPN Responds to Criticism and Publishes Social Media Policy”

To Tweet or not to Tweet: That is the (Latest) Question

Twitter has the hearts of marketers aflutter. It is the new must-do medium as it grows its number of users and elevates in status as a “cool” social networking platform. According to ComScore, Twitter had about 10 million site visitors in February 2009. Now, the curiosities of businesses kick in – “How can Twitter help our business?” “Should we be using Twitter to reach customers?” “Do we use Twitter the same way we use e-mail or our web site?”

Twitter is a channel for reaching an audience, just like mail, telephone, Internet, radio, and so forth. The 140-character maximum for a Tweet (a Twitter message) obviously limits how much information can be delivered. Add to that limitation the question “What would people want to hear from our company when we Tweet?” Is it sales information only? Conversations between employees and users that serve to personalize the customer service experience?

Check out B.L. Ochman’s list of 10 reasons your company probably shouldn’t use Twitter in the link below. Her list is on-target. As a social networking platform, Twitter is a medium for conversation. It is all about interaction. Marketers that treat it like more traditional one-way communication mediums (e.g., advertising) will likely find their Twitter experience unsuccessful. On the other hand, Twitter seems to hold much promise for companies that actually want to hear from their customers and are willing to open a channel for that dialogue.

Link: Ad Age Digital – “Top 10 Reasons Your Company Probably Shouldn’t Tweet”