Consumers expect real-time results

On June 25, 2009 at 5:20pm EST, TMZ announced the death of pop star Michael Jackson with a link (a shortened link made to post on sites like Twitter). The news shocked the world, and at its peak, the URL was getting 42 clicks every second. It’s a perfect example of how people want and expect lightning-fast news.

Enter real-time search. As more people have relied on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook for news, it became clear that major search engines simply weren’t fast enough. To catch up, Bing and Google started serving up people’s live updates on the social sites, as well as headlines from news and blog posts that were published just seconds before someone conducted a corresponding search.

Marketers, take note: A quarter of search results for 20 top brands link to consumer-generated content. A recent study conducted by Oneupweb revealed that 47% of people looking for information on a brand both viewed real-time results, and indicated that they liked this type of content.

The evolution of search is headed towards a higher degree of social integration, and businesses need to pay attention. Your customers and prospects certainly have. There are a few things you must do now to optimize your company’s social media channels, so that your business sees peak results when displayed in real time.

Be sure to Tweet things that will stand out on a search results page and compel readers to click through to your Web site or landing page. Don’t spam. Google announced that it is cracking down on spam or anything resembling spam. If you think you’re not spamming, but you have scheduled Tweets going out twice an hour, think again.

Finally, start a conversation and increase positive engagement with your brand on social networks. The more positive, engaging comments, the better. Your Tweets, blog posts and more will appear on search results pages now and in the future. Monitor what is being said, and make sure that you’re putting your best face forward. These results might be lightning-quick, but they will leave a lasting impression.

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