Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Google - Twitter strike live search deal; what it means for your company

If you do a Google search for Tiger Woods (as I did in the image above), you'll notice something has changed. At the top you have a news story, then a few results from the web, and under that is a frame with constantly updating new stories about Tiger, including tweets from Twitter.

Yes, Twitter. Live Search is now here, as Twitter and Google recently struck a deal to have tweets about popular topics included into Google's search results. Google struck a similar deal with Facebook as well, and I'll cover that in another post.

If you are a company, you have to understand the ramifications of this. Potentially, YOUR tweets as well as the tweets from Twitter users ABOUT your company, could be integrated into Google search results. As with most areas of social media, this can either be a great thing for your company, or a nightmare.

Consider this; Let's say your company suddenly has a major product recall. Speculation in mainstream media is running wild that this could just be the tip of the iceberg, and that other more popular product lines could be affected as well.

When people run to Google to do searches to see what is happening, tweets from Twitter will very likely be served up highly in the results. This is where your company can either benefit, or be in big trouble.

If your company has been proactive and is engaging with Twitter's users about this issue, then not only will your responses show up in search results, but so will the responses of Twitter's users, that have likely been influenced by your responses.

On the flip side, if people are discussing this on Twitter and your company has no presence there, there's likely to be wild rumors and speculation thrown about, and if your company isn't there to address these rumors, they will only get worse.

So what can you do about this?

1 - Start monitoring Twitter immediately. Go to Twitter Search and do a search for your company. Here's a link to a search I did for 'Heinz'. Notice up in the top right there is an RSS icon and it says Feed for this query. Click there, and you can subscribe to these results in your favorite feed reader.

2 - If you haven't already, reserve your company's name on Twitter. If the exact combination that you want isn't available, pick a name that's to your liking, and edit your profile to explain who you are, what you do, and include a link back to your website or blog (if you have one).

Now in all honesty, as the deal currently stands, this likely won't affect most companies. For example, I did a search for Jones Soda, and no tweets were served up in the search results. So if you are a small business or even a mid-sized company, this likely won't change much if anything for you. But if any news-worthy event happens that attracts MSM attention, it could very easily have tweets inserted into search results.

So it might be best to remember that Noah built the Ark before the rain started.


KaryD said...

Another great post, Mac.

The Google/Twitter and Google/Facebook deals are changing the playing field. If there ever was a more crucial time for companies to start monitoring this space, it's now.

The power of Google combined with the speed of Twitter? Like you said, Mac, you can be a huge success or a big disaster in a matter of seconds.

Companies simply can not afford to not pay attention anymore.

Dez said...

Great post! However it should be noted that Google's Real Time Search isn't just displaying Twitter results, but also results from the Google BlogSearch as well as other network updates.

All the details are in the Google Blog announcement:

Mack Collier said...

Kary I agree, I think this is one of those moves that will pull a lot of companies into at least investigating social media. The potential downside to NOT being here is now too large to ignore.

Mack Collier said...

Thanks Dez, I wasn't exactly sure what the parameters of the deal were, and my guess is that Google would like to bring in more 'live' news from more sources.

I think this also makes us realize that if we are active in social media, we are 'always on'. I think that was an unwritten rule, but this helps drive it home.

Stefano Maggi said...

Very interesting, thanks Mack.

I wonder what are the requirements for a topic to show up in search engine result page with real time results. Where's the border between standard and standard + real time? It should be important to know.

Also, this puts SEO under a totally different light: will we still need to "optimize" pages in 10 months from now? Or are we going to "optimize" conversations, instead?

Elizabeth said...

The best part of that entire post was your reminder at the end "Noah built the ark before it rained." When a company is small and not really on the radar that is the perfect time to get your social media set up. 1) it will help awareness of your business grow and 2) if it takes off you will be prepared for it.

Amanda O'Brien said...

Great post (again), Thanks.

Real time search also opens the door to some pretty scary stuff. These two posts (full disclosure - one is a coworker) scratched the surface on some of the scarier things we could be worrying about here... spam, targeting children etc.



How we fold this new feature into our daily routines should be interesting to follow. Thanks again!


Marianne said...

Great explanation Mark! What I am thinking about is what a shot in the arm this is for Twitter. I think a a whole new audience will be exposed to Twitter, who never really saw any value. Will they participate? A percentage will start. I anticipate large growth in Twitter based on this change alone. I love it! Let's me really get the message out there now!

Ryan said...

Agree with most of the comments here. While Twitter is a key component of live search, blog posts and new traditional media articles are also included.

However, I'm concerned about the rush for companies to 'reserve' their own screen name. It's not about just making sure nobody else is using their name. It's about taking that name and using it.

I wrote more about that here: http://rhynoblogger.blogspot.com/2009/11/social-media-phone-number.html

CBonds said...

Great post. I've been telling my clients this for a while and integrating Twitter and a blog in the sites that I develop for them.
If these companies don't establish a good social media presence right now, then others will establish a bad one for them later.

Howie @skypulsemedia said...

Most of the Live Search info is drivel. Like 90%. There really needs to be a way to collate what is import. Problem is 90% of tweets are drivel. So the problem exists on Twitter as well. Mundane stuff from close friends is amusing. From strangers it is outright offensive.

Kaila S | Vertical Measures said...

Not only is it important for you to monitor what is being said about your brand in particular, it's also wise to monitor what is being said about the keywords applicable to your brand. For the example Heinz, they should be looking up keywords like "ketchup" "I love ketchup" "best ketchup", etc....monitoring those keywords will allow them to see exactly who is talking about their brand or topic, even though they might not be referencing it by name per se.

Mack Collier said...

Stafano I'm not sure, that's what I am interested in as well, the exact parameters for what sources are used for 'live' content, and which aren't. And perhaps more importantly, will that criteria shift in the future?

Mack Collier said...

"However, I'm concerned about the rush for companies to 'reserve' their own screen name. It's not about just making sure nobody else is using their name. It's about taking that name and using it."

Ryan I hear you, but at the same time dealing with companies that are COMPLETELY new to SM has taught me that baby steps are necessary. A lot of these companies are skeptical about the potential of SM to help their businesses, and we tell them they HAVE to do something, they probably won't.

Ryan said...

Mack, I agree they have to do something... anything.

I worry though that encouraging virgin-social-media companies to do anything (only reserve their name) will open them up to conversations they're not knowingly a part of (company x...why aren't you answering me??).

If they're going to put their name out there, they need to jump in and be ready to engage -- good or bad.

Brandon Sutton said...

Excellent thoughts here Mack, and great discussion in the comments. Ryan brings up a very important point - brands can't just create an outpost and then not respond when people are trying to engage. This is no doubt troubling to some marketers, but this is really becoming part of the cost of doing business. To quote the Borg, resistance is futile. ;)

Thanks for the discussion!