Last month, we learned that Google and Twitter have struck a new deal to put real-time tweets back into Google's search index after going without them for a few years. Google isn't expected to implement tweets into its results in the same fashion it did when the two companies had a deal in the past (as in a never-ending stream of real-time content appearing at the top of search results pages), so it's hard to know exactly what to expect. Both companies are staying fairly tight-lipped about what the new deal will entail.
Are you looking forward to the implementation of the deal? Do you want to see more real-time tweets in Google's search results? Let us know in the comments.
That said, it is clear that it's going to mean more real-time tweets appearing in search results, and that can lead to a variety of new things to consider. Conversocial CEO Joshua March shared his thoughts on how the deal might impact customer service and reputation.
"The biggest challenge and opportunity for businesses using Twitter for customer service is that every interaction is now amplified," he tells WebProNews. "Whether that’s a complaint from a customer or the company’s response, the agreement between Google and Twitter places a greater spotlight on each interaction."
Does the deal mean reputation-damaging tweets will become a bigger problem for businesses?
"Absolutely," says March. "When a customer is searching on Google for a business, Tweets from customers about issues or bad service experiences could be on the front page. If businesses have a social first approach to customer service then they can tackle these quickly and head on, creating positive engagements that will show up instead. This deal has the potential to accelerate the kind of service-related Twitter crises many brands have already experienced."
"For companies with a social first approach who are committed to delivering excellent, fast and authentic social customer service, the agreement between Google and Twitter has the ability to spotlight them, and make it very obvious to customers that they care," he says. "Companies that have successfully integrated various social media into their customer service DNA should be very excited by the agreement."
"In addition, previously addressed concerns are now searchable, allowing customers to potentially self-help," he adds.
That's a great point, and if Google does a good job implementing this, these types of results could easily take the place of forum threads. In a recent research paper, by the way, Google pointed out that forum posts are often not very trustworthy.
The question remains: will businesses have any significant control over how they're reflected in tweets that actually appear in search results?
"We don’t have insight into how Google will rank Tweets for search purposes," says March. "We can surmise that only a few Tweets will show up on the first page, since Google has taken such a consistent, minimalist approach into the results they show. In this case, the best approach for companies will likely be to offer the best customer service they can via social media."
A recent Ad Age article suggested that businesses treat tweets like ads or landing pages to get users to take action when they come across them in search results.
"Many brands have treated Twitter as a short term, throwaway medium – ignoring the longer term impact," says March. "This deal makes it very clear that this isn’t the case; the conversations you have with your customers on Twitter are here to stay. It underlines the need to treat every Tweet seriously – whether a marketing message or a customer service response."
If nothing else, the deal would suggest that it's more critical than ever for businesses to interact with people mentioning them on Twitter.
"The social channel has grown up – for some major companies, it now makes up over 10% of all inbound customer contacts," March says. "As communication continues it’s huge shift into mobile and social, this is only going to keep getting bigger; older digital service channels like email and chat are gradually become obsolete. Customers have always punished companies for ignoring them on social media; the impact of this is now much bigger."
Does this mean you should consider the search implications of every tweet from your brand's account?
"The agreement between Google and Twitter amplifies conversations that are already happening, going beyond Retweets and Favorites, and placing them in front of more people," says March. "Companies that are effectively delighting their customers should appreciate the opportunity to have their efforts shown across the web. The key thing for brands to keep in mind with this is the same as always – any Tweet sent could be seen by millions of people. Tone of voice, careful wording, and offering real, authentic help and resolution remain key to success."
Eric Enge’s Stone Temple Consulting recently put out some research about how Google indexes tweets currently. They analyzed 133,000 tweets to see how Google indexed them, and found that about 7.4% of them were actually indexed, leaving 92.6% completely left out of the search engine. That tells you how this deal can potentially impact search results. There's room for a hell of a lot more tweets.
Enge's team found that Twitter accounts with larger follower counts got more tweets indexed, with more value being placed on authoritative accounts. They also found that images and/or hashtags seem to increase a tweet’s chances of getting indexed, while mentions registered negatively. Links from third-party sites also appeared to have a significant impact.
More on Stone Temple's findings and a conversation about this subject with Enge here.
Do you expect to be helped by Google's deal with Twitter? Hurt by it? Share your thoughts.