How Google Keeps Its Twitter Empire Running Smoothly

This post is part of the Twitter for Brands Series, which features winning strategies from the top brand pages on Twitter and provides tips on how to emulate their successes.

With nearly 5 million followers, Google is a Twitter behemoth, bumping elbows with LeBron James and CNN on the list of the top 100 Twitter accounts.

The main Google Twitter account is only the head of an empire comprised of dozens of sub-brands, providing a window into the coordination behind Google’s overarching social and community management strategies.

From YouTube, which has, in fact, eclipsed Google in terms of number of Twitter followers (with more than 14 million) down to brands like the much more obscure and technical Google Cloud Print (7,000 followers), these reaches of the empire maintain their own Twitter presences.

Act on it

Twitter is inherently a place for brand-building. But that doesn’t mean brands can’t try to get more tangible benefits from tweets, too.

With very rare exceptions, almost every one of @Google’s tweets includes a link to some sort of actionable item, be it a blog post to read, a Google doodle to check out, or even a different Twitter account under the Google brand umbrella to follow.

Newsworthy events are presented with a link to the press release or blog post that explains more. This keeps the Twitter feed informative yet readable — it doesn’t try to explain the full story in 140-character installations.

A concise sentence introducing a link with more context and content gives interested users something clear to retweet  and they do. The message announcing Google Drive was retweeted over 3,000 times.

And apart from retweets, Google gets a lot of attention on the platform. According to Mashable, Google is the most tweeted-about brand on Twitter with the exception of Twitter itself.

Cross-promote, but delicately

By our count, in the past several months Google has retweeted only one account external to the organization. That’s right: Justin Bieber (the tweet in question referred to YouTube).

On the main account Google uses retweets pretty much solely to promote other Google products. They also frequently @mention to cross-promote.

The @Google stream is a healthy mix of updates regarding hard technology, social initiatives, press coverage, consumer tech, and business-to-business tips. About a month ago, they promoted Google Wallet’s new Twitter account. Today, Google Wallet has more than 10,000 followers. Not a bad start.

Interact strategically

On the main Google stream, followers are not addressed. That’s what its support forums are for — same goes for YouTube. Away from the main @Google stage, though, Google has a small army of team members running its community management efforts.

Smaller Google brands do use Twitter as a place to interact with customers. Google Wallet is a prime example. The Wallet team often @replies to complaints with their apologies and a customer service phone number.

With multiple brands under one umbrella, it can be tricky to keep social media presences streamlined, particularly on Twitter. The way in which Google’s network of products interacts provides a model for companies large and small looking to maintain one main account and a host of sub-accounts.

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