Google has introduced a new feature which will allow prominent individuals and organisations to interact directly with users via search engine rankings. This tool could prove revolutionary for politicians who are looking to engage with their electorates in real-time online.
Research conducted by Chitika in 2010 indicates that the first page of a Google search garners 92% of traffic in an average search, with the top spot accounting for 33%. Google notes that “every day millions of people search on Google, many of whom are looking for information about prominent individuals and organisations.”
It is essential that prominent individuals, such as politicians, cultivate a positive reputation online. Google Posts will potentially allow prominent individuals to “communicate with text, images and videos directly on Google.”
Developing content for Google Posts is “fast and simple.” Once content is created, the user can press publish and it will instantly appear at the top of the Google search results for their name. Google adds that these posts can also be shared by the user with their followers on social media, disseminating said content with a wider audience.
Trialling the feature
The firm trialled Google Posts during the final US Republican party debate before the GOP Primaries began. In a blog post, Google revealed that political search interest climbs by 440% during a live televised debate. With Google Posts, candidates had the means to communicate with potential voters in real-time via the Google search results to capitalise on high debate search volumes.
Explaining how this would aid candidates, Google said: “This experimental feature helps voters make more informed choices, and levels the playing field for candidates to share ideas and positions on issues they may not have had a chance to address during the debate. By publishing long-form text, photos and videos throughout the debate, campaigns can now give extended responses, answer questions they didn’t get a chance to on stage, and rebut their opponents.”
According to Mashable, the company is now broadening its Google Posts trial programme. The feature, which Mashable argues “feels like a one-way social media platform,” is now being offered to politicians from the Australian Liberal Party. This will allow prominent politicians such as Malcolm Turnbull, Australia’s current Liberal Party Prime Minister, to communicate with voters in real-time via the Google search results during the run-up to the July Federal election.
Vital political tool
Google Posts could also serve as a vital social media tool for politicians. It is key that politicians market themselves on social media so they can engage with higher numbers of potential voters on the go via mobile and desktop devices. For example, supporters of US Senator for Vermont Bernie Sanders utilised the Twitter hashtag “#FeelTheBern” to turn him into a contender for former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Primaries.
With Google Posts, politicians can manage a comprehensive, immediate social media campaign by timing their activity efficiently. An Infographic from Quick Sprout shows that 3pm is the time to get the most clicks on Facebook posts, but 5pm is the highest retweet period on Twitter. Therefore, a candidate could post the same content on Facebook and Twitter via Google Posts at these times to ensure that it reaches the largest voter base as possible.
Google Posts could also provide candidates with a great clarification tool. For example, during an event in Iowa, GOP Presidential candidate Carly Fiona said that the US has a “record number of abortions year after year.” The statement was disproved by Politifact, branding Fiorina an untrustworthy politician. With the help of Google Posts, Fiorina could have clarified her statement to her electorate on social media as soon as news of its inaccuracy hit the wire, limiting its effect on her campaign.
Engaging in real-time
In this increasingly digitised world, voters are bombarded with political news content on a daily basis, which they can access in real-time via mobile devices. If a politician is hit with negative news reports which rank highly on search listings, this content could damage their trustworthiness with voters.
Google Posts could prove an invaluable tool for politicians allowing them to monopolise that all-important top spot in the Google rankings for their name and manage conversations at the most advantageous times.