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Twitter real time search now in Google SERPs and implications for brand management

Alex Christie

10 December 2009

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 12 months, you will be aware of the phenomenon that is Twitter.

You may also be aware that Google and Bing have been casting jealous glances at Twitter’s Real Time Search engine, as one of the major flaws in both Google and Bing is the inability to crawl and index websites in real time. In essence these two major search engines are showing you a snap shot of the past, not the here and now.

But not any more! First Bing announced they were partnering with Twitter to include a Twitter feed within relevant SERPs, quickly followed by a similar announcement from Google, a point which Bing take great pride in!

So we decided to put this to the test, but what highly topical issue to search for? Tiger Woods to the rescue again! The screen shot below shows the new Twitter real time search feed within Google SERPs, with a Tweet by yours truly (StuTamar) occupying the top spot.

Google Twitter Real Time Search

Google Twitter Real Time Search

Surprisingly (or not!) despite having reached an agreement with Twitter first, Bing does not seem to have the Twitter real time search live at time of writing!

A key feature of the Google Twitter real time search feed is that it is constantly updated without need for the page to be reloaded, obviously replicated from the feed on the Twitter site.

So what time period elapsed between me tweeting, and my tweet appearing within Google? Within 30 seconds of tweeting, my tweet appeared on Google.

So what does all this mean for brands?

This change to Google SERPs (and Bing eventually) has massive repercussions for brand management within the UK.

Whilst the growth in Twitter use in the UK has been meteoric, it is difficult to quantify the number of accounts in the UK as there is no need to provide localisation information, and Twitter fails to release any usage stats. However, it would not be unreasonable to assume only a fraction of the UK population is currently using Twitter. In comparison, almost everyone in the UK uses a search engine on a daily basis.

So where previously someone tweeting about your brand will only be seen by users of Twitter, it is now possible that a member of the Twitterati with no followers can negatively comment on your brand and users of Google have the opportunity to see this.

In a purely hypothetical scenario, a company offering car insurance may lose a sale based on the fact that the prospective client saw a tweet from a disgruntled customer within Google SERPs, similar to “my experience with xxx was so bad i felt like tearing my hair out! Never use them again!!!”

In a highly competitive marketplace, can you take the risk that a negative comment on Twitter may result in a loss of sale? And while you’re at it, is a social media strategy something you can afford to be without? The answer is undeniably no, non, nine!!!

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