There is an old saying about learning to walk before you can run, and that certainly appears to have been the case with the partnership between Google and Twitter.
Although the search giant and social media’s little-train-that-could enjoyed a fleeting romance before, the break-down in relations circa 2011 could be traced to Twitter’s somewhat naïve belief that it wanted to “keep its content propriety to users”, according to Search Engine Land.
The result was that as Google continued to grow, Twitter struggled to keep pace, even with other social media like Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn.
However, the renewed partnership announced recently looks set to be a serious game-changer for both companies. What this means is that Google now has access to Twitter’s stream of tweets (known as the “firehose”) instead of trawling the site for the most relevant updates, as was the case previously.
For Twitter, it means that the company is exposed to Google users (all 1.7 billion of them), meaning that it will engage an audience like never before. That alone should ensure the company grows its market share and starts to pose a serious threat to the bigger social media.
While details are still to be finalised on how exactly Tweets will appear on Google, it is envisaged that Google might position the feed to the right of the main SERP results.
What does this mean from a marketing perspective?
There may, for example, be concerns that there will now be too much information for consumers to wade through, and those companies that are able to enlist the services of a celebrity brand ambassador to tweet away merrily will always hold sway in terms of Google’s relevance ranking.
However this is already the case, if truth be told. Kim Kardashian is always going to trump a refuse removal business, even though the latter is significantly more useful (and unquestionably more talented).
What both marketers and clients need to come to terms with is the practice of real-time engagement, Twitter’s bread and butter. Relevance is no longer only about providing a service, but making that service speak to what’s trending on Twitter. People no longer want to learn about something that happened a few days or even a few hours ago; they want up-to-the minute content that allows them to form opinions and engage in conversations with others.
American social media expert Ali Moghadam could not be more correct in his assessment.
“There have been studies in the past that show that Twitter accounts and tweets that are shared and followed, retweeted and favorited are more often likely to appear in a search result in Google because either Google considered it to have more weight, or its popularity has been found on a number of different profiles. There are many sorts of mechanisms for how it would make its way into the index, but it’s more likely that it would be in a search result if you have that follower engagement and that sort of general activity going on than if you don’t. So that’s why it’s important and that’s how you can use it.”
According to the World Wide Worx South African Social Media Landscape report of 2014, there are currently between 2.2 and 5 million Twitter users in South Africa, so any company that has underplayed the platform to date best come up to speed before the rollout of Google’s Twitter ranking in a few months’ time.