Whole New (Search) World


Twitter’s deal with Google opens up the web to Ag’s message

twitter-bird-logoMuch has been written about the recent deal inked between Twitter and Google that will allow the search giant to include tweets in search results.

Obviously the public nature of tweets lends itself to search and imbedded social media results within each Google search – much like ‘image’ or ‘news’ searches are currently displayed – will add tremendous value to the space. No doubt that any marketers still fence-sitting about the value of Twitter will now be forced to jump in.

For Ag users, the deal has significant impact on the scope and reach of our online message.

  • While Twitters explosive growth has been more than enough reason for agriculturalists to adopt the platform, it has its limits. Twitters traffic is roughly 14-18 million visitors per month, however eMarketer estimates that there are only 6 million registered users. This represents only about 3.8% of people on the Internet.
  • Google’s social search feature will help break down the barrier between the Twitterverse and the rest of the internet. No longer will Ag related RT’s and tagged tweets simply bounce around inside the #farm or #agchat bubble. They will have direct access to the general internet public.
  • Twitter users now have greater power to directly and organically impact search results. This means that despite large SEO budgets directly controlling search rankings, individual users will have the ability to logroll content and deliver what’s really important.
  • Twitter will continue to become less of a destination and more of a presence on the web. (3rd party clients, search)

The deal should have an impact on the way you tweet. If Ag professionals don’t change the way they use Twitter to reflect the newly broadened horizons opened up by Google, they will be missing out on having impactful and insightful messages reach a larger set of eyes on the broader internet. Users should consider several areas that they can change and ‘tweak’ the way they use the space.

Takeaways

  • More focus on relevant search terms beyond hashtags.

In order to improve search rankings and visibility, bloggers focus on using of common search terms in their writing and reuse them often. Twitter users should now think twice before shortening valuable search terms and /or relying on hashtags too much. Use terms that the general public will use when seeking information on a specific topic. We may like to use animal wellbeing, but the public is searching for animal welfare.

  • Trending topics have the potential to greatly influence search results.

Ag users have shown that they can successfully influence the conversation on Twitter. The recent trending topics #oink and #moo were successful in focusing a broad conversation about Ag within the space. Users should expect trending topics to break out of the space and return results within a Google search. Supporting documentation and information should be in place before any organized attempt to trend a topic.

  • Social relevance will be more important to a successful Twitter campaign than before.

Engaging and more importantly ‘real’ Twitter personalities will become more important now that tweets will reach the broader web. We already know that consumers have virtually no trust in corporate (read, lifeless) blogs. We also know that users feel that same way about Twitter accounts that do nothing but promote a groups latest news release. Tweeps should remember to give their stream some life from time to time, and organizations should consider developing companion accounts that compliment the organizations feed with personal tweets.

With a little forethought, Twitter users will easily cultivate a strong following on the web and even among those who have never visited the site. Real time updates and conversational topics will become central to internet search. Ag users have the ability to continue to leverage the power of Twitter to reach millions of viewers with our message and engage with them on a more personal level. It will simply require a re-thinking about the way we use the tools currently at our disposal.

Update:

Thanks to @Mica_MON and @RayLinDairy for adding to the conversation and bringing up the following points. I had not thought about this at all and I thank them for their thoughts. You can find their entire posts in the comments section.

@Mica_MON – “I also think there are lessons for us in the types of people we engage on Twitter. What conversations are going to be useful for the broader Internet user to learn about agriculture? When we get into a heated exchange with an organic/local/food activist are we communicating in a professional manner? Do those converastions provide the type of information/knowledge we want people to have?”

I would agree wholeheartedly. I would also add that the potential for Ag users to look bad in the eyes of readers when engaging in these types of exchanges increases exponentially due to the nature of the medium. Unlike comments on blog posts, Twitter conversations are not threaded and therefore the opportunity for searchers to take tweets out of context is greater. Users should try to embed a message or grow a relationship with every conversational tweet and make their comments as clear as possible. If you can, incorporate questions into answers and make good use of “Re:”

@RayLinDairy – …we in AG need to get back in the relationship game. With SM we have gone too far to the propaganda/politics side and need to readjust.

This goes somewhat to the previous point, and there is not time like now to readjust. We as Ag users should re-evaluate who we have conversations with and what those conversations are about. I think both crop and livestock users can all identify several @’s on the opposite side of the aisle that are no longer worth engaging with, especially now that our words are open to the entire web. Focus more on casual users as opposed to agenda users. Build relationships and have conversations that you wouldn’t mind your preacher reading!

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9 responses to this post.

  1. Great information!

    Reply

  2. Good thoughts Shawn. The importance of using the right terms is key. Similar to your example, we prefer to say biotech to GMO, but if the public is searching for “GMO” then that’s the term we need to use.

    I also think there are lessons for us in the types of people we engage on Twitter. What conversations are going to be useful for the broader Internet user to learn about agriculture? When we get into a heated exchange with an organic/local/food activist are we communicating in a professional manner? Do those converastions provide the type of information/knowledge we want people to have? In some cases with some Twitter users, I think it does. However, in some cases, I see ag focusing too much on people who are so diametrically opposed to use that there will never be a “common ground.” I fear this type of engagement makes us lose focus on the greater public at large that we want to talk to.

    In summary, I will be thinking more about how my tweets show up to the broad public and what impression I am leaving them about ag or my company.

    Reply

    • Posted by Shawn Martini on October 29, 2009 at 7:48 pm

      Mica,

      You bring up a great point about the tone of tweets. I agree that this is another great area to watch going forward. We will have to assess whether or not it is worth getting engaged in particular conversations. The fact that conversations are not threaded puts individual tweets in a vulnerable position with respect to being easily taken out of context.

      Thanks for bringing that issue up! Great addition!

      Reply

  3. Anytime we have the opportunity to have more contact with a bigger audience, that is an opportunity that we must take advantage of . Great post!

    Reply

  4. Posted by raylindairy on October 30, 2009 at 4:33 am

    I agree with the fact that we in AG need to get back in the relationship game. With SM we have gone to far to the propoganda/politics side and need to readjust. This is part of the reason behind the new @Farm2U Twitter account.

    Reply

  5. A lot is made about how much bigger Facebook (over 300 million registered) is than Twitter (over 6 million registered). But information on Twitter is essentially completely public (unless you make your tweets private). On Facebook you’ve got to be a friend. Until Facebook changes it’s functionality and policies it can’t do what Twitter does.

    I’m not sure I understand the claim that we in ag have gone to far on the “propoganda side” and I wouldn’t agree with that. Unfortunately, too many of the people who hate farming for various reasons are not willing to engage in a reasonable discussion. Makes it kind of hard to have a “relationship.”

    Good post. I can’t agree more with the idea of being a “real” person tweeting. Too many companies are setting up an anonymous account so that you have no idea who is doing the posts. That is the equivalent of having a cold, corporate, static website and disregards the personal element of this communications mechanism.

    Reply

    • Posted by Shawn Martini on October 30, 2009 at 6:03 pm

      Thanks Chuck your opinion and expertise are very valuable! It will be interesting to see how Bing incorporates Facebook into its social search. It will also be interesting to see how Facebook encourages users to make more of their content public in light of the recent controversy with FB’s privacy agreement.

      Even if they were to get more participation than expected (and I don’t think they will), with the nature of Facebook being what it is, I don’t think search returns using the space will be nearly as valuable as those from Twitter.

      Reply

  6. While the Twitter/Google deal on real time search is very helpful to making information more widely available, search by itself does not a conversation make. Twitter, Google, Facebook, etc are just tools. Tools help people effect change, evoke action, make things happen; but tools by and of themselves do nothing. I have this great set of tools in my garage but they are never going to make that neat book shelf I need; only a person with talent and time will do it.

    All that “successfully influence the conversation on Twitter” means is that that an ag related term or topic is getting used a lot on Twitter. What we should be asking is “Is influencing the conversation on Twitter making a difference in our agricultural indsutry goals?”. What measures beyond trending topics should be monitored? Great example: Are the social and new media tools being used increasing the awareness of how food is produced?

    Those in agriculture who want to advance a cause, promote and idea, or take action should use tools in conjunction with other efforts; lecture circuits, opportunities to talk with people in real space, providing usable information and knowledge in multiple forms, and/or having coffee with supporters and distractors. Key to this is have a plan with tools and measure outcomes over time. This will help you evaluate if you are going in direction you desire.

    Actions to consider:

    Make a plan with measurable goals.

    Learn how the tools work and practice regularly.

    Meet with other people in and out of the agricultural industry to see how they are using tools to advance a cause.
    This is a great post to help us gain focus on tools and trends we in agriculture need to understand and take advantage of.

    Reply

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