Twitter + Google: What a rekindled romance means for marketers

Google and Twitter have rekindled a relationship after a few years apart. But why – and what’s changed?

True love can be difficult to find, humanity has learned over the ages, but in the digital age, making it last can prove even more difficult. However, Twitter and Google – who both swiped left on a data sharing agreement in 2011 – seem to have rekindled their romance. The question is: Why?

Google and Twitter: The break-up

The couple had previously built something quite beautiful together – Google Real-Time Search – but certain complications developed in the relationship. What exactly caused the break-up has never been disclosed, but some factors might include:

Not paying attention to each other’s needs
Twitter wanted to better monetize its own product. With Real-Time, users could read tweets outside of the native platform, meaning no ad revenue possibilities.

Twitter saw Search Plus Your World as favoring content from Google+.

Google figured Google+ was bankable enough to rely on for social data. At the same time, Twitter had inked a deal with Bing (through a PDA on the platform).

As Twitter shut off its ‘firehose’ of data to Google, Mountain View mothballed the project.

Google and Twitter: Making up

Taking these into account, there are a few inferences we might make in the change in situation for each entity.

Twitter’s in it for the long haul
The biggest benefit of the new agreement for Twitter may be user acquisition. For some time, those who navigate to Twitter (desktop) without being logged in receive a sign up prompt. The clicks from Google search could quickly drive acquisition – seen as slowing in the near past.

Google’s being less needy
Maybe Google’s neediness to be a major player in each area of digital has finally waned. The reconciliation seems to concede that Google+ wasn’t the game changer for social Google might’ve hoped.

They’re both tired of Facebook’s unwanted advances
In a way, Google and Twitter re-tying the knot fends off the relentless efforts of Facebook to dominate the digital scene. Facebook has encroached on both parties’ platforms in recent years.

From Twitter, it’s taking cues from hashtags and trending topics, becoming a bigger player in pushing links to long term content and real-time news. As for Google, Facebook search has seen multiple refinements and has been predicted to even enter web search in coming years. And this week’s Product Ads announcement seems a direct strike at Google Shopping ad budgets.

Which leads to what it really all comes down to: These three entities are trying to look lucrative to marketers in order to capture budgets. But, while this union may aim to make marketers’ decisions a bit easier, there are still some potential problems to consider.

Why “It’s Complicated” for Marketers

As when any couple gets back together, anyone close to them is going to have some reservations. And marketers are especially close to both platforms, so what should we be thinking about:

One of the biggest impacts for Twitter will be increased impressions for Tweets. However, the question remains – how will we be able to measure such impressions? Not knowing this skews the effectiveness of marketing on the platform.

SEO keywords
There’s been a fair amount of chatter regarding optimizing Twitter messages for search, with many going right for the keyword angle. While this is not ‘wrong’, per se, it may be worrying marketers more than it should – basically, Google’s algorithm is smart enough to connect messaging to related ideas.

Example: Say LeVar Burton is in the news – you know, for Reading Rainbow Kickstarters, appearing on Community or just being a general badass. Except, you can’t remember his name – you just know him as “the guy from Reading Rainbow.”

Google can figure this out:


So it stands to reason that being as granular as to assimilate keywords to Tweets may not be entirely necessary; however, maintaining unified messaging across channels – a practice worth consideration anyway – will be more important.

Damage control on Twitter – i.e. negative sentiment
This, as I see it, is the big one. Brands need to be cognizant of the conversations surrounding themselves on social, yes. Now, those conversations – whether positive or negative – will be appearing in Google search. This becomes an issue when a branded search is performed and negative, peer-populated messages appear for the user.

Example: I’m in the market for a car. I hear good things about “Brand X” and want to learn more, so search the brand on Google. However, Brand X does not have an adequate Community Management / CRM strategy. So a Google search might then reveal unanswered customer complaints and negative sentiment – prominently in the results and in real-time.

In an ever-diversifying field of potential advertising placements for digital, Google and Twitter seem to be hoping that an old flame rekindled will light the way forward. It means some changes – and challenges – for digital marketers, but looks like it will be a blessed union.

Jason Morton is Associate Search & Community Strategy Director at MRY. Holler at him on Twitter:




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