Google and social media. It is the one area the tech leader has never quite grasped.

Google Buzz, Google Friend Connect, and now Google Plus have all underwhelmed the general public. Even the strong-arming ‘great for SEO’ tactics they employ have pretty much fallen flat, Sure, people sign up… but organic use is non-existent by the majority.

While the company has led the way in most other aspects relating to internet search, their social mishaps have been particularly confusing, often tending to overthink the simple requirements of the social media user.

Over the past few years, as Facebook has acquired Instagram and Whatsapp, Google has continued to lose ground. More recently, with the Microsoft purchase of LinkedIn, their social media problems have become more urgent. Indeed, if they choose not to act soon, they could be irreparable.

Buying Twitter can change this.

The proposal is nothing new. Ever since Apple’s bid in 2009, rumours have continued to swirl regarding the possible Google takeover of Twitter. In the past, they could afford to allow their social experiments to play out. Not any more. Even the Yahoo owned Tumblr are leaving them trailing.

Twitter is the only independent, and sufficiently popular social platform that can give Google an instant game-changer.

While it is not without its problems, their 320 million users are nearly three times that of Google Plus. More importantly, the user base is active and engaged. The ‘live’ ethos also sits exceedingly well with an increasingly real-time social demand.

In addition, Twitter has key areas which are unmatched among its peers :

  • Community Journalism : News constantly breaks on Twitter before traditional outlets.

  • Favoured platform of politicians and celebrities : The British Chancellor tweeted his Brexit reaction, days before appearing in public.

  • Ease of use : It is exceedingly easy to sign up, participate and share.

For Google, these are big advantages. Breaking twitter stories could feed Google Alerts and news channels. Celebrity and political interaction make Twitters advertising future intriguing and attractive.

This is perhaps the crucial aspect for Google. In reality, Twitter and advertising have only really scraped the surface of what could be achieved. Google’s undoubted marketing acumen would take it into a different league, maybe even eventually competing with the Facebook social PPC machine.

Which brings us to the potentially most damaging and frightening consideration for Google :

What if Facebook buys Twitter? They have continually been the most savvy social player, purchasing start-ups and rivals consistently… and growing their revenues as a result.

All of this means that Google are faced with a simple choice ; begrudgingly buy Twitter or accept a future with limited social media influence.

The weeks and months to come will illustrate which meal they can best digest.

This article was originally posted at Digital Dock, and has been republished with permission.