Ignore for now the advertising opportunities that may come along with the recent deal Twitter and Google made; those opportunities will show themselves in due time. What matters for brands today are the issues that can arise from Google amplifying the voices of average Twitter users. Without specific guidelines, the wild west landscape this deal may create should cause many marketers to lose sleep and many agencies to lose their hair.
Picture this situation: A consumer has a bad experience or engagement with your brand and out of frustration they send out a tweet to their 70 followers. Google’s algorithm picks up this tweet, identifies it as relevant and starts displaying it within Google’s search results when someone is looking for your brand. Now you have something meant for a small circle amplified to everyone searching for the brand. Picture this happening in a regulated industry such as pharmaceuticals or finance and this simple tweet becomes a legal nightmare. While the details of this partnership are not clear, there are four things marketers should start doing now in preparation:
1. Begin monitoring the social landscape, if you’re not doing that already. Social marketing is not just about talking – listening to what people are saying may prove to be even more valuable. There will always be people who love your brand and hate your brand. Understanding consumer sentiment will help you better prepare for a time when social neutrality gives an equal voice to all. While it may seem that monitoring will steer you to focus on negative sentiment initially, it is important to understand both the positive and the negative of how others view your company and brand.
2. Have a reputation management strategy ready. With the negative often comes the need to respond. Whether this is a simple tweet from a follower or a larger story that makes national headlines, negative news has a tendency to travel and it is best to get out in front of it. Too many brands have been hesitant to address negative press and once they do act, it comes across as a desperate move. Proactively formulating a strategy will allow you to better assess the level of response needed.
3. Understand search volume on key terms. The challenge with search is that it doesn’t give the searcher a sense of how many other people took the same action. For that reason, a negative listing or tweet may appear to have a larger reach and therefore the reaction may be stronger than is needed. If you have a strong understanding of search volume and how many people may be reached through a search, you can take the appropriate action without causing additional harm.
4. Pay close attention to your own words. This partnership is likely to highlight the words of others, but as a brand it is important to continue to watch your own words closely as well. Remember, once you post something online, it is out of your control. And while that tweet may not always be captured by Google, there is a chance and that should cause brands to think twice before posting.
Whenever Google announces the launch of a product, the industry immediately begins speculating on the advertising opportunities available. Their recent partnership with Twitter could force brands into a spotlight they weren’t prepared for and expose them to a PR nightmare if they’re not careful.
Chris Tuleya is EVP, Media, at Underscore Marketing, a firm that creates and manages integrated marketing programs for health and healthy brands.