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Recently, Microsoft beat Google to the announcement that they had made a deal with Twitter to incorporate live search result into the SERPS. It looks like Google – in a rather silly attempt to get their own back – integrated Live  Twitter results into its results without its usual thoughtful user testing.

The result poses problems for brands and users and Google alike. Take the screenshot below. I see several problems.

See Problems if your Twitter handle overlaps with your brand?

The  layout Issue: It’s the most minor of  the issues, but somehow, Google has added a huge area of white text. Google did not take into account that sometimes, there will only be one relevent “Tweet” and reduce the box size accordingly. Presumably an easy fix.

The Relevency issue: How on earth does me asking about radio advertising have any relevence to a Google user searching for the brand “Receptional”. Of course, it doesn’t. It might  be appropriate in some circumstances, but lack of relevancy can become quite a problem for Google, because it becomes remarkably easy to “spam” the live results with messages that are simply not appropriate.

The Personal Brand issue: This is by far the most serious problem – and it is not JUST the live Twitter results. A few weeks back, a fellow Twitterer was complaining about their O2 service issues. Having had a similar problem with Virgin Mobile in the US last month, I was empathizing over Twitter. He eventually did the Tweet below:

This got picked up by Google Alerts, and Receptional’s new Managing Director contacted me asking why there was apparently someone talking to Receptional about wanting to terminate a contract!

Clearly, this represents a potentially tricky issue for anyone that uses their brand name on Twitter, as it acts inadvertently to undermine the strength of the brand.  Over the next few weeks, Receptional will seek to amend this. It is likely that we will need to change my personal handle on Twitter.

Changing a Twitter handle with 1,300 followers, though, is not a straightforward task. Just changing it on the fly may mean that everyone suddenly finds themselves following a handle they never signed up to. But setting up a new handle and asking everyone to start following the “new me” is also problematic, because Twitter users do assume that I am the voice of Receptional the company.

So Receptional has decided that the BEST policy will be to change my Twitter handle to “Dixon_Jones”, bringing my followers along with me by default. We will then move the followers on the Twitter handle “ReceptionalBlog” to the “Receptional handle. We hope this will not confuse many users at all.

If you would like advice on how to manage your reputation, consider talking with our Social Media consultant – Stuart Crowder.