Now you see them, now you don’t. We’re talking about tweets. There used to be a time when you’d see tweets in Google search results – that was until 2011 when they went away because the financial masters at Twitter and Google couldn’t agree on a price for the data, says an article by Mike Isaac in this morning’s New York Times. Apparently that’s about to change.

Twitter and Google have agreed to resume data sharing so tweets can once again appear in search results.

How Google displays the torrent of tweets will have ramifications for social media monitoring tools, Google users and the overall quality of searches.

First on quality: Twitter can be a shameful place. So says Twitter CEO Dick Costolo. There’s fun, informative content on Twitter but there are also threats of physical violence, sexual abuse, and stalking, mostly all directed at women. Will all of that nastiness now make its way on to the Google search results page? Hey kids, don’t lean in too closely. Maybe Google engineers will figure out how to filter all that nonsense . . . and then maybe Twitter can buy it.

A lot of money has gone into starting then buying technology companies trying to monitor, report and provide engagement tools on social media.  A study done a few years ago showed how inaccurate the results can be (chart below). While we use some of these tools ourselves for a first level analysis, we always provide our clients with a live team – there’s absolutely no substitute for staff work. Will that change with this announcement? Unlikely. More tweets surfacing on Google will only highlight the problem for companies of every stripe. Every CEO, executive and board member will now be painfully aware what they’ve been missing but none the better prepared for how to handle the deluge.

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Lastly, a deluge of tweets on Google will degrade the search experience. Google must have something up its sleeve to handle this problem. Maybe a box like news results to cordon off tweets from other organic results? On the other hand, this creates new opportunities for marketers to surface what’s happening on Twitter on Google and to what? draw more people into the conversation? Of course, that’s the only way this makes sense for @dickc.


[Main image from Monty Python skit.]