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What the new Twitter-Google partnership means for social media and content marketers

Omar Akhtar
Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 2.09.41 PM

Last week, Twitter announced a new partnership with Google that would take tweets beyond its platform and into the world of search. Tweets composed on Twitter will now show up in Google search results in real-time. CEO Dick Costolo says the feature will roll out over the first half of 2015.

That’s not just welcome news for Twitter as it struggles to revive its flagging user growth, the deal also has plenty of positives for social media and content marketers.

For starters, this means any single tweet gets seen by a larger audience. While organic reach on Twitter is nowhere near as bad as it is on Facebook, it’s difficult for a brand to reach more than 10% of its followers on Twitter, and even harder to reach users who aren’t directly following them. With tweets showing up in Google search results, brands can extend the reach of their content beyond the confines of Twitter, gaining access to a much larger audience of Google search users.

It isn’t just tweets that get more eyeballs. There’s an opportunity to drive more traffic to websites by posting links to blog content, special deals and offers for eCommerce sites, and company updates. Search is still the number one driver of traffic to most websites, and with the Twitter partnership, it highlights how a social strategy can be used in tandem with search to get more content engagement.

The deal is also a boon for real-time marketers, especially those posting content that relates to a live sporting or entertainment event like the Oscars or the Super Bowl. Posting content based on a trending topic or hashtag will get a brand plenty of engagement on Twitter, but the audience searching for that event on Google is exponentially larger. That means a smart, funny joke about Jennifer Lawrence at The Oscars could be seen not just by the people searching for her on Twitter, but the huge number of people typing her name into a Google search box at that very moment.

Conversely, this also means brands have to be even more careful about what they post on Twitter, because a larger audience is going to see it.

“Tweets will have a longer half life, so what you are putting as an advertiser in your streams, will last longer if people decide to search for your brand or content,” says K-yun Steele, director of paid media at Sprinklr, a social media management platform. “Ultimately it means that brands will have to pay as much attention to the content they are syndicating and teasing via their tweets as much as they would the content they are posting on their websites.”

In other words, a brand might be able to delete an offensive tweet minutes after it is posted, but it would probably be a while before it can be removed from Google’s index. That would make a screw-up live on far longer than any PR team can afford.

From a paid media perspective, Twitter will also be able to provide more bang for buck to advertisers on its platform. A Promoted Tweet, like other pieces of organic content would also be able to be viewed outside the Twitter platform, showing up in search results. “We’re seeing paid media becoming earned media,” says Rebecca Lieb, Altimeter analyst and our resident content marketing expert.

However, Lieb says there are several questions that remain unanswered, especially regarding SEO potential, and how much a tweet will affect it. “SEO is something you build up over time, so we don’t know what the connection is going to be with tweets showing up in searches,” says Lieb. “If you link to something in a tweet, will that contribute to link-juice?”

It’s also interesting to see what this partnership will mean for Google+. Four years ago, Twitter and Google had similarly partnered up for real-time search, but the deal was allowed to die as Google poured its resources into making Google+ the center of its play around linking social with search. Indeed, the only reason most people posted links to their Google+ accounts was the hope that it would boost the SEO ranking of the content. Lieb says the new partnership isn’t just an acknowledgement of Twitter’s value by Google, it’s a mild confession that Google+ just didn’t work out they way it was expected to.