A development on the other side of The Pond last week should send shivers down the spines of any remaining C-suite Twitter cynics here in the UK.
That's because, as reported by the always-excellent Econsultancy, a new partnership between Google and Twitter has started to roll out, which seems certain to have huge long-term repercussions on SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) rankings.
Given Google's continued dominance of the search market (see chart from Statista below), SERPs rankings have become the lifeblood of tens of thousands of UK businesses, ranging from one man bands to the biggest PLCs. And although - as Econsultancy points out - only time will tell in terms of the full implications of this new partnership, my advice is to start planning for a world in which Twitter's influence on the world of search moves to a completely new level.
Needless to say, this is terrific news for those brands who have been carefully cultivating their Twitter strategy over recent years. On the other hand, assuming things pan out as I expect, it could have profound long-term implications - and necessitate a hasty reordering of marketing priorities - for companies that had previously not taken Twitter seriously as a marketing tool.
As Econsultancy puts it, the Google-Twitter deal will bring tweets "deep into the SERPs", with the result that the already thin boundaries between search and social media will blur still more.
The initial impact of this new SERPs regime is being seen by mobile users in the U.S. But, be in no doubt, this will be rolled out worldwide over the coming months. And, once that happens, the days when it was possible for a brand to operate without a cohesive Twitter strategy will, I’m certain, be numbered.
In a statement about the new SERPs regime, Google says that the new Twitter-based results offer "a great way to get real-time info when something is happening. And it’s another way for organizations and people on Twitter to reach a global audience at the most relevant moments."
Typically Econsultancy goes right to the heart of the matter from a commercial perspective, underlining why business owners and marketers should be taking this development VERY seriously:
"The implications…could be significant and far-ranging. For instance, brand marketers may find that the content they're distributing on Twitter could soon have a much broader audience, reaching consumers who are searching for their brands on Google. That could be good news for content marketers that have a well-oiled Twitter operation.
"On the other hand, marketers may also find that reputation management on Twitter becomes even more important as what people are saying about their brands on Twitter could make it into the SERPs.
"That could be bad news, as crisis management on Twitter can be very challenging and firestorms, often sparked by small but vocal minorities of users, are hard to predict."
So what should you be doing if your company isn't on Twitter or, if you are, your account is at the rusty end of the ‘well-oiled’ spectrum?
In the short term, it makes sense to keep an eagle eye on your company's relevant Google search rankings once the UK rollout starts in the coming months, so that you can see if (or more likely 'when') your position for key search terms starts to be directly affected.
But sitting on your hands, watching your SERPs position glide gently south - and leaving your brand strategy in the lap of the social media gods - is clearly no marketing plan. So, in the medium to long term, you'll need to consider far more positive action.
For most companies - whether B2B or B2C - this means a review of your Twitter strategy to ensure it is fit-for-purpose in the new era of search and social convergence. If not then you'll need to push Twitter way up your list of marketing priorities because it will no longer be just a 'nice to have' tool sitting in a social media ‘silo’, but rather an integral element of your wider search, communications and brand strategy.
And what if your company is a B2B without the time / expertise / resources to develop a coherent Twitter strategy to cope with whatever this brave new world of SERPs throws at you?
If that’s the case you could do a lot worse than drop me an email at email@example.com and we’ll take it from there!