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Dec 9, 2009 | 3 minute read

Google Wants You to Hear the Twitter Chatter of Tiny Tweets

written by Linda Bustos

About a year and a half ago I posted an article Negative Word Of Mouth: Crisis or Opportunity? which included some findings from a
Society for New Communications Research study:

  • 59% of consumers use social media to vent their frustrations about customer service experience, and research other companies’ customer service before dealing with them
  • 74% choose companies/brands based on others’ customer-care experiences shared online
  • 72% research companies’ customer care online prior to purchasing products and services at least sometimes
  • 84% consider the quality of customer care at least sometimes in their decision to do business with a company
  • 81% say blogs, online rating systems and discussion forums can give consumers a greater voice regarding customer care, but less than 33% say they believe that businesses take customers’ opinions seriously
  • Search engines are the most valuable online tools for this research. Those rated of no value include micro-blogging sites like Twitter (39%), YouTube (27%) and social-networking sites like Facebook and MySpace (22%)

Before Twitter's surge in popularity, it was rated of little value for consumers' online research. Only the geekiest of the geeks were exposed to or cared about Tweets related to your brand. Oh, how times have changed.

The Global Language Monitor studied the Internet and media and reports that "Twitter" is the most used word online of 2009, beating out "Obama" and "H1N1."

And now Twitter messages are being pushed on search engine users. Google and Bing have both integrated real-time Twitter search results in their engines. Bing has its own vertical search at, while Google boldly places Tweets at the top of results for select searches:

Google's all about relevance and quality of results -- pointing people to information they want, whether it be a web page, image, video, shopping result or 140 character sentiment. Personally, I don't really care that @neonnn can't wait to go to the Yesstyle store in SF -- to me it's noise. But what if the live Tweet result included "worst service" or "sucks"? It might make me think twice about visiting a retailer or making a purchase. The retailer would have a real-time social reputation problem, which granted, may only last for a short time, but nevertheless erodes the efforts to build a brand online.

What's a quick way to "push down" recent Tweets that are negative? Simply tweet a couple things from your own account using the search keyword (if it's not already your Twitter handle). A good way to stay on top of the current tweets about you is to create a saved search, which you can create and view when you are logged in to your Twitter account:

Another way is to search with Twitter Search and subscribe to the searches you want to follow by RSS (no Twitter account needed, but you'll want one to respond to tweets):

If you don't have the time to neurotically check Twitter searches every 5 minutes, you could delegate this to an online reputation manager who can work on a holistic social media strategy including reputation management work. If you're not schooled on what reputation management is or why you need it, Darrell Long from Search Engine Journal gave a good explanation when we caught up with him at Search Engine Strategies in San Jose last summer.

RSS/email subscribers, can't see video? Visit this post on the Get Elastic blog.

You won't find real time Twitter results for every brand name - yet. I couldn't find results for any of the major airlines or big names like Dell and Walmart, though "Getelastic" did return some results. But as we head into 2010, I expect real-time results to appear for more brands. Twitter is going to be even more influential on consumers next year, so it's important to stay on top of all the little ways this microblogging service impacts your online business.

By the way, the cartoon above is from Rob Cottingham's brilliant Noise To Signal series.