Google May Buy Twitter. Dammit, Jim, I’m a Marketer, Not a Day Trader.

From its peak shortly after it’s high profile IPO through Friday, Twitter’s stock price is down a shocking 67%. It’s been left for dead.

Superficially, Twitter is a news feed. A media business. Historically, media businesses generate revenue by selling ads they show its audience. As its revenue and user growth slows, analysts and the media are taking shots at Twitter’s viability. By historic standards, they’re bang on. Media businesses with declining audiences go away.

So, why would the biggest search engine, Google, want Twitter? Why would the biggest name in CRM, Salesforce, want it?

Search needs social data to get its algorithms right. Ever wonder why Google started G+, why the search page looks more social every day or why YouTube has “followers”? Because relevant search results need to know how the people you’re connected to consume content and products. Search doesn’t know that without the social graphs in Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. They can’t build it. So, they’re buying it.

CRM needs social for the same reason. Social graph data—who you’re connected to and how—expands their data exponentially. You see, CRM knows your history—how you interact with a bunch of stuff at each company. The average person uses five social platforms. On each, they average about 300 to 500 friends or followers. Social multiples the knowledge stored about each customer by 100s. Yes, HUNDREDS.

Assuming you’re not a day trader, here is why you should care.

Twitter is not a media company. Twitter is a treasure trove of data about what people want and how those people connect with other people. In short, they know INFLUENCE.

Consider a few media and marketing mega-trends.

Ads are passé: 25% of people block them. 60% of ads clicked on mobile devices are “mistakes.” The department of justice is investigating billions of dollars’ worth of ad fraud. And, that’s before Facebook revealed this week that they “overestimated” video viewing times by 80%. Ouch.

Search use is slowing: 55% of internet users in Q1 2014 searched the web. That was down to 49% in Q1 2015. The 2016 figures aren’t out yet. Mobile users rely on apps not search. As they untether from clunky things on their desk, they value search a whole lot less.

Influence is in: 62% of U.S. adults get their news from social media. Instagram influencers have 11x more influence than web banner ads. These uber-important folks use “native” content. Things that read like articles and inform—not sell. Click through rates (CTRs) for native are 50% higher than CTRs for those pesky ads.

Social augments CRM in profound ways: $26 billion. That’s what Microsoft paid for LinkedIn. Not because Microsoft wants to be in the tired, old, challenged, and highly cyclical recruitment business. But because Microsoft wants to know who influenced business buyers. LinkedIn had that. CRM is a selling tool. CRM plus social is a panacea.

I bet you discuss ads, search engine optimization, influence marketing (AKA, peer-to-peer stuff) and that you debate the merits and risks of social media every day.

The search engines and CRM platforms you rely on to market care about Twitter. That they do, should tell you something about your 2017 plan. Perhaps you should shift away from ads and toward the things your customers actually want: more information, less promotion; more content from influencers, less from publishers; and more action on social than on search.


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