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One unique tweet, one important brand lesson: Osama bin Laden and social media chatter

Posted by: Lauryn Bennett on May 06, 2011

It’s been quite the week in international news, between the sweetness of the Royal Wedding and the bittersweet end of Osama Bin Laden. The world has been atwitter (pun very much intended) over the amount of social media chatter surrounding these two events – tens of thousands of status updates, blog posts, and tweets. In fact, the latter event’s social media surge can be tracked back to one unique tweet, the effects of which were brilliantly monitored by the crew over at SocialFlow.

There’s no doubting the go-to power of social media in situations like this. But what about online searches? Well, according to this Google chart and its 1,000,000 percent increase in “Bin Laden” queries, it’s just as phenomenal as the social media volume.  

All this talk we’ve been hearing lately of search engines no longer being relevant seems to be proven, well, dead wrong. It’s still one of the first places the majority of people are going for information. More importantly, it’s one of the first places people are going for real-time news.

This point is huge. As TechCrunch writer MG Siegler notes, while poorly written, link-baited, ad-spam content isn’t new, it’s getting worse and will most likely continue to decline until Google figures out some kind of magic way to balance the attack on content farms and relevant real-time data.

For us and our brands, this means a few of things:

1. Refresh your content.
Today. Now. Again. If only I had a dollar for every shocked look on a client’s face when I suggest their content should be updated every week, if not every day or multiple times a day… It’s not to say your high-level messaging changes, it rarely should, but your content should be updated as often as possible to stay as relevant as possible. When an event comes up related to your industry and your content is old and not what your audience is looking for – you’re in some trouble. You won’t appear in search results and what isn’t found, isn’t shared.

2. Social media is NOT just for consumer brands.
The number one thing I hear from B2B brands is “my customer isn’t on social media, so I don’t need to be.” But your customers’ customers are, and both are using search engines—that I can guarantee. As long as search engines prioritize real-time content (read: social media content), you need to have a presence. It’s part of creating and driving the conversation happening around your brand, which isn’t something you can focus on when you feel like it, or you won’t matter when it matters.

3. Content first. Always.
It’s hard not to worry about spam content when you’re focusing on creating that perfect on-brand tweet or that precise message-driving blog post, but you can’t. You just need to put out as much consistent, engaging content as possible. Nothing beats that in the long run.

If there’s anything to learn from Keith Urbahn’s tweet, it’s that sharing and driving conversation is a complex, unpredictable process upon which trust and authority matter strongly – along with building relationships. And at the end of the day, that’s what matters most. When there’s a big event you’re involved in or not, what’s important are the relationships you build through the promise your brand makes to your customers and how you consistently deliver on that promise each and every day in each and every medium.

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