BLIMEY! What a lot of fuss and panic. Mass hysteria. Social media spammers running around like headless, errm, twickens…

Okay, so maybe there’s just a smidgeon of hyperbole in our intro but, really, Google’s suspension of its Realtime Search isn’t the end of the world. Since the announcement, on July 2, that Google’s agreement with Twitter had expired, we’ve heard all kinds of kneejerk reactions, largely from businesses trying to use Twitter to boost their search rankings.

Calm down. It’s okay. DON’T PANIC!

It’s no big secret that Google is busily beavering away on its own social media offerings… we’ve all heard the stories about its bid to create a Facebook rival and many of us have noticed Google+ being rolled out (click the link to find out more). With all this going on, is it any wonder that the internet giants have decided to allow their Twitter agreement to slide?

Realistically, how many of you actively used Google’s Realtime Search capabilities? Well then. Realtime allowed us to look for ‘live’ results, from people talking all over the web, when we tapped in our search term. These results didn’t come only from Twitter, although it was certainly the dominating force.

If you were one of the minority who actually did use Realtime Search, how useful were the results? Honestly? Despite being social media advocates, we Tigers never really experienced greatness from Realtime. Why? Well, if we’re searching for ‘outer Mongolian welly wanging’, we want real information on the activity, forthcoming events, how to get involved etc – not someone saying ‘I love outer Mongolian welly wanging’. What use is that?

I know. We’re being flippant. Lots of people were banking on Twitter to boost their search ranking on Google. And that’s where it all went a little bit wrong. You see, there are businesses who get Twitter and use it properly, and then there are Twits. The Twits, as far as we’re concerned, have been screwing it up for the rest of us.

Let us clarify: in business terms, Twitter exists to help us locate, meet and engage with our key audience. Regardless of Realtime Search, it is still one of the best, free business tools available. Used properly, Twitter allows businesses to share information, gather information, find new leads and build solid, long-lasting, authentic relationships with our customers and potential customers.

This, on the other hand, is how The Twits use the service: “Ooh, another opportunity to drive our sales messages to a wide audience. Wow! We can spam the globe! We don’t even need to be present – we can just set up hard-sell auto tweets! Fantastic! Spam, spam, spam, spam…”

So, while the rest of us devote our efforts to engaging with our audiences, The Twits set about spam bombing our Twitter streams with utter rubbish. And if we complain? Well, they’ll rarely respond, because they’re rarely present and rarely bother to check. Why should they? They’re too busy with their obnoxious, 80’s style, pushy sales methods and, anyway, they’ve downloaded a free spambot to tick the Twitter box.

Just before we end our Twits rant, could we ask the so-called social media expert who tells everyone to include a website link in EVERY tweet to stand up? Ladies and gentlemen, this takes Twit to a whole new level.

Turn off The Twits

All things considered, I don’t think we’ll really miss Realtime Search too much and, if it disincentivises The Twits, it could be a wise move.

What does it really mean for my business?

Honestly? Not a lot. Google’s crawlers will still be able to access all publicly available Twitter information, so we’re really only losing the archives. Will people still be able to search for your Twitter comments and mentions? Yes! Will you still be able to use Twitter to engage with your target audience? Yes! Will people talking about your services via Twitter still spread your message and help you with viral, word-of-mouth marketing? Absolutely, YES!

Long term, we don’t know what will happen. Google says it hasn’t ruled out further collaborations with Twitter and we can be certain that it won’t be doing a U-turn on its Social Search ideas. To quote Google: “Our vision is to have include Google+ information along with other realtime data from a variety of sources”.

In the meantime, if you’re desperate for ancient, archived tweets, other search engines still have their Twitter agreements in place – Topsy, for instance, can search back to 2008 and, at the time of blogging, Bing Social Search and Yahoo also had deals with Twitter.

We do hope this has eased some of the panic. Twitter’s just as powerful to business users as it’s ever been. Just keep tweeting!



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