What Google’s Real-Time Search Means for Brands

Google recently announced a new search engine ingredient: Real-time search. In addition to traditional search results — Web pages, photos, videos, maps, blog posts, articles, and news stories — Google’s universal search now streams real-time results from Twitter and from public pages on MySpace, Facebook, and other sources.

Google’s real-time search is poised to have a significant effect on brands in the social media space. In the past, it may have taken several minutes for content to be indexed by the search engine. There’s no waiting period any more — the instant an item is posted and linked, it’s searchable via Google.

Here’s a quick demo video:

(If you can’t see the video, you can view it here.)

How Google’s real-time search impacts brands:

  • Every customer experience is public — and magnified. Everyone has the potential to be influential more than ever before. It doesn’t matter whether someone has thousands of Twitter followers or just a handful — they have the ability to impact the conversations around them, in real life and online. If a customer has a negative brand experience, they may vent to their friends and followers. Brands that are highly engaged in the social space will reach out. The brands that are not as engaged may let those issues linger and/or not even be aware that a problem exists.

This should be a wake-up call for brands vis a vis reputation management, since customer complaints can quickly become public. The issues that are communicated by customers are now searchable, and negative brand experiences may appear on the first page of a Google search for your company. Companies with a commitment to social media engagement, a solid digital PR strategy, and great customer service will reap long-term benefits.

  • Social media presences for brands and companies are now in the spotlight. Many companies are educating consumers, building relationships with their audiences, and being brand advocates in the social space. They are engaged in the conversation about their brand. Many other brands, though, are not engaging, whether it’s because they feel it’s too risky or because they lack expertise.

Companies of every size need to create an active presence on the social Web — it doesn’t make any difference if your social media monitoring efforts tell you that there are 9 or 900,000 relevant conversations each month about your brand, products, or employees. The more content a brand creates, the more frequently that content will appear in Google’s real-time search results. Your “social brand” is now front and center, with the potential to drive top-line results for people who are searching for your product. Maybe it’s time to rethink letting an intern manage your Facebook Page and corporate Twitter account.

  • Content will emerge  quickly through your audience. Remember that great viral video you created several years ago that you couldn’t get anybody to watch? It can now be found more easily.

A big part of social media planning revolves around content: What will your brand say, and when? How do your brand’s objectives inform the content of your YouTube channel? How will you promote your new Facebook contest? As brands work to develop sustainable content plans, it’s important that they keep their audience in mind — brands are dependent on them.

  • Search engine optimization (SEO) is now even more closely connected to social media. Up to now, SEO experts have been using social media like blog posts and YouTube content to drive organic search rankings, forge relationships, and generate backlinks. They’ve also been leveraging social bookmarking sites to drive traffic and links.

SEO will now play an even bigger role in real-time search. For example, hashtags will now appear in search results, and those tagged conversations can drive additional awareness and coverage of the tagged topic.

What other ways will Google’s real-time search impact brands? Please share your thoughts!

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Saturday Social Marketing Round-Up

Here’s some great weekend reading in the social marketing sphere:

Is social media marketing making search campaigns cheaper?
Have you been wondering why Google’s make such a big push into display and social over the last few months? Well The Wall Street Journal has a theory: Google’s revenue growth is down 25% this year and marketers are getting more bang for their buck in search.

Toronto Twitter Tweet Up
Image by Dave Delaney via Flickr

Social Sites Send Fewer, but More Loyal Visitors than Search
While we all like our sites to have visitors, a loyal visitor—one who returns for later visits—is especially valuable.

When Two Worlds Collide: Social Media Marketing & SEO
All of the basics of SEO will still be important, but your social media presence will be a critical part of securing your search traffic. Social media will most likely become just as important as content creation and inbound links for priming the SEO pump.

Mobile Social Networking Blurs Lines
Both mobile and social are emerging channels. Combine the two of them together, and well, you have an even less mature proposition. Not necessarily a lack of marketing opportunities, but more complications getting programs off the ground.

Less than 10% of small businesses twittering
Businesses of all sorts are becoming more social, but it seems that the most recent social tools aren’t being widely used. According to a new report from BIA/Kelsey only 9% of small businesses are using Twitter to market or engage.

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