Search Marketing Social Media

Twitter-Google Deal Signals New Era of Search & Discovery

February 5, 2015

Last night, in advance of today’s Twitter earnings call, Bloomberg announced a deal between Twitter and Google that would make tweets more searchable online. By mid-year, tweets will become visible in Google’s search results as soon as they are posted via a new direct link between Google and Twitter’s Firehose data stream. This is a major move for Twitter as it continues to work to build and grow its audience. Not only will it extend Twitter’s reach and discoverability beyond the platform, but it also indicates a broader shift in how people will discover and share in digital channels.

While integrations between Twitter and Google have been attempted in the past, six years later both brands and consumers are more primed to take advantage of this new deal, which promises to make the search and social experiences more seamlessly interconnected while bringing more relevance to both platforms. For Twitter, the deal will help it grow its reach and relevance beyond mega fans to non-users, and it has the potential to impact how promoted content performs. For Google, it means not just having the most “technically right” results, but also the most “relevant results” that users have come to expect from right-time social signals.

For the last five years, search has been relatively neat and tidy, with 95 percent of searches happening on Bing, Yahoo or Google – and until recently, primarily via desktop. We are now entering an era where search and discovery is happening everywhere, and intent signals are coming in from new angles, especially on social platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. By integrating search and social, the two manners by which most people – and especially millennials – explore and discover brands in digital, this deal will likely lead to a tidal wave of changes for search and discovery that will continue to accelerate this year and into 2016.

Marketer Implications

  • Align social and SEO content marketing strategies
    From a search perspective, marketers should consider ways to align their social content and SEO content strategies. This is especially critical as social results borrow page real estate from current organic results. Certain tweets will help brands gain visibility within specific searches, creating broader implications than simply tracking the popularity of a social post. This will also require SEO practitioners to evolve to focus more on content and relevance, and less on title and meta tags.
  • Look out for changes to Google News
    The most important change is likely to be to Google’s news stream, as rather than just viewing timely articles, searchers will also have access to timely social content that will inform what articles or news sources are trending in search. This prime search real estate is where it is anticipated the user experience and integration is likely to be most noticeable, being the place where people are looking for right-time, relevant results.
  • Revisit social strategy and tone of voice
    For social marketers, this deal will impact how brands engage consumers, and for some brands, it will require a significant shift in their social tone of voice. Because posts will reach a broader audience, this could lead to the death of “bae” culture on the platform, at least for brands. Many messages brands currently put out on Twitter will be fairly worthless within a Google search, so this will impact how content is developed and posted.
  • Consider the additional digital baggage
    Twitter content will now have more reach and significance, so brands need to consider the resonance and staying power of their tweets. Brands need to understand how the Twitter-Google combination amplifies coverage around their brands and activations, to be prepared to manage brand reputation on multiple digital fronts. For instance, if there is a large PR issue that is being stirred up on social, it could easily find its way to Google and become a much larger issue to address and contain.
  • Prepare for more cross-collaboration between paid and earned media
    Both Twitter and Google stand to gain from this new deal, and while details are still unclear, it could potentially have implications for both paid and earned marketing. Like paid social, we are likely to see future developments that will require teams that were once separate to collaborate in closer partnership.

This is a landmark deal between two industry titans. Many will watch from the sidelines and think about distribution. For marketers this deal is significant, signaling the beginning of a sea of change in the playbook for discovery across search, content and social. Keeping track of these advancements will give marketers more insight into how most people – and especially Millennials – explore and discover brands in digital.

Jared Belsky, President; Michael Dobbs, Group Director, SEO; Jason Hartley, VP, Search Marketing Practice Lead, Media; Danielle Johnsen Karr, Supervisor, Social Marketing; Matt Wurst, VP, General Manager of Social Media at 360i contributed to this post.

Cover photo via Marketing Land