PR Teams take action! The future of Twitter

It’s not often I use this blog for work things (hell, it’s not often that I use it these days – that will be changing). However, an article flagged up by an industry colleague (@chrisdate) needs a PR response.

Twitter is partnering with Google to put tweets into search results in real time. So what? Well, it’s designed to get marketers to start focusing on Twitter as a way of driving search engine optimisation.

The Advertising Age article lists how brands can best respond to the initiative. As a PR expert, I think our industry needs to respond robustly.

IF you want to use Twitter to support your SEO, then absolutely follow Advertising Age’s advice. It makes sense. But note the emphasis on IF. If you go down this road, then just be aware that if  you decide to ‘leverage this new reach’ and start to ‘treat tweets like ads or landing pages’, then you lose the very thing that users of Twitter value – conversation. And if you lose that conversation, then you will lose followers.

It all gets back to thinking about your audience. If your influencers are engaged on Twitter (journalists, bloggers etc), then they are highly unlikely to retweet or reply to Twitter posts that are nothing more than keyword-optimised ads designed to push traffic and improve SEO. And consumer audiences? Yes, they do react to ads but that’s not Twitter’s strength – consumers love the interaction and conversation on Twitter, as it’s not replicated elsewhere.

The article advises: “In order to leverage this new reach, brands need to treat tweets like ads or landing pages. Have a meaningful call to action in your tweets or have a link to the brand site with more information. A simple message is not going to get your user to take action.”

Not every tweet does need to have a call to action. Reputation, influence and engagement are built by conversation, which includes retweeting good stuff from other brands, replying to other users, and commenting on relevant trends/news.

PR professionals, I think we need to work hard to ensure that we lead on Twitter and don’t lose the very things that make it so valuable.

And please note, I am not saying that SEO doesn’t matter. Of course it does. It’s just that not every single online activity should be about SEO. Reputation and engagement are just as important to building brands. Let’s not lose sight of that.

Am I alone on this? Have I misinterpreted the Advertising Age article? I don’t think I have but I’m sure my PR colleagues in the Twittersphere will let me know if I have. I really want to know, so tell me!

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