While details of the plan to connect the Twitter firehose with Google are still emerging, it appears on the surface that it could have a significant impact on organizations in the middle of an online crisis.
Essentially, it appears tweets are now going to show up in Google whether someone is on Twitter or not. That means that anyone doing a routine Google search will now see damaging tweets, as opposed to only those folks who are actively following news on Twitter. Negative information would have shown up before, but it will be a lot more real-time under this arrangement and could potentially cause even greater reputational damage than in the past.
Here’s one illustration. Data breaches such as #AnthemHack, which trended strongly last week, would of course still receive intense online attention even under this new arrangement. But a different kind of data breach incident that was initially of interest to a much smaller audience but one that happened to have a huge Twitter presence capable of driving thousands of negative tweets against a company would now be readily available via Google searches. Since Google makes the information available to a much broader audience, it could have a crippling effect to a brand online as negativity and criticism spread.
All of this underscores the importance for a social media strategy for any size organization. Taking the time to understand how developments like the Twitter-Google combination could negatively affect your organization’s reputation in a new way is time well spent in advance of an actual incident.