Category Archives: Google+

Google Isn’t Worried

The success of Google+ will be one part Google genius and one part competitor shortcomings. 

FACEBOOK – The One Trick Pony 

Facebook is the most pervasive social network to date because it changed how we connect with each other in a way we never could have imagined.  I look at my Facebook Page and it’s like a time capsule of my life and relationships.

Unfortunately, Facebook does not give us much control over the content we consume.  The famous Facebook algorithm determines what posts are interesting to us.  Then there are a few simplistic ways to tailor our feed.  We can select people as “Close Friends” or decide on a friend-by-friend basis whether we want to view all, some, or just important posts.

Facebook hasn’t realized that we’re not always in the mood to read the same types of things.  Personally, I like to read news and tech articles in the morning.  By the afternoon, I’m in more of a Bravo TV and People magazine sort of mood – with a sprinkling of friends and family throughout the day.  The bottom line is that I love to research new social media trends, but not at the same time that I’m stewing over how stupid the Kardashians are.

Our Facebook news feed preferences are pretty static.  Facebook figures if you like to read the news in the morning, then you better like reading it in the afternoon too.

Google+ Circles gain an edge in this arena.  They let you filter your feed so whether you’re in the mood for Social Media, Technology, or trashy celeb gossip, you can switch from one to the other fit your mood.

TWITTER: A Disorganized Mess of Incredible Information

Twitter fanatics will crucify me for saying this… but Twitter is a mess.   It suffers from severe disorganization and Google+ is capitalizing on it.  Half my Twitter feed is filled with people’s comments to each other.  They’re out of context unless I click on the post to explore further and let’s face it… 9 times out of 10 I just don’t care.  I don’t want to see people’s comments unless it’s organized as a thread under a post that I find particularly interesting.

Twitter is one big guessing game (which to me, can often be a timewaster).  There are no thumbnails or article descriptions.  I can’t see photos unless I click on the link and my only clue as to whether I’ll like an article is the 140 character hook posted with it.  Don’t get me wrong.  I do find a lot of interesting stuff on Twitter, but sometimes I have to wade through a fair share of garbage to find it.

Google+ understands that we are visual people.  I want to see an image and an article blurb before clicking on a post.  I want the comments and responses to be organized in a thread below so I know if I’m adding to the conversation or just repeating something that’s already been posted.

The great thing about Twitter is that it’s so public.  The awful thing about Twitter is that it’s so public.  Twitter is an amazing resource because you can follow so many different people with so many different interests without having to be friends.  This makes for an amazing resource, but it also might limit what you want to share.

A few months ago I found myself interviewing for a new job.  I had to fight the urge to retweet Howard Stern or reply to anything that could appear unprofessional to a potential employer.  With Google+ Circles I can post publicly the topics that I want to discuss with the world and more privately on ones that are just guilty pleasures.

Google Genius

While Google+ Circles are the answer to most of Facebook and Twitter’s shortcomings, Google’s genius makes G+ a force to be reckoned with.  G+ offers the most control along with the most intuitiveness of any network available.  Plus, Google is standing behind its commitment to integrate the tools so they can all be accessed in one place.

Google+ is becoming more and more integrated with Gmail.  Whenever you receive a G+ notification, you can intiate hangouts from chats and comment and +1 posts from your email.

Google Local is now officially a G+ feature so while you’re sharing funny cat videos with your friends, you can easily look up reviews for local pet stores.

If you own an Android phone, you can allow your photos to be automatically uploaded to the site (a huge timesaver) and then edit them right in Google+.  Hangouts are better than Skype because you can involve multiple people and share your screen all while wearing a pirate hat and… it’s all free.

Events are far more organized and easier follow with than a Twitter.  Plus they can support tons of photos.  Just check out this transcript from a weekly #GardenChat on Twitter and try to make sense of it.  Then compare it to a Google+ fruit tasting event at Andy’s Orchard.

It’s only fair to compare G+ to its social network competitors.  But while G+ has improved upon a lot of it’s competition’s shortcomings, it’s important to see that Google comes to the table with a lot of innovation that the other networks had never considered or attempted.  Say what you will about the Google+ following, their organic growth will continue to build and integrate into the tools we already use every day.  It won’t happen overnight, but it’s bound to come. 

Afterall, it’s Google.  What’s the rush?

This blog is part of a week long Google+ series.  To read more about G+, choose any of the blogs below:

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FINALLY! Google+ Strategies for Businesses

This is the blog businesses have been waiting for!  I am going to tell you exactly what strategies you should use on Google+.

Remember when businesses first started joing Facebook?  No one knew quite what they were doing so they mostly just spammed fans with promotional posts.  So it’s no surprise that barely a year after the launch of Google+, businesses still aren’t clear on how to use it.

Where does Google+ fit into your social media marketing strategy?  Think of it this way.   Your website is the professional face of your company.  It hosts a lot of information, but it’s not particularly interactive.  Your Facebook Page waters down that information into conversational posts.  Twitter takes engagement to a different level as an real time customer support tool.  Each network should build itself around a different angle or facet of your business to build familiarity and excitement around your brand.  Let Google+ take your audience behind the scenes of it all.

Give your viewers an exclusive G+ experience that they cannot get from your other social profiles.  If Facebook represents your brand’s image, then let Google+ reveal the company and culture behind it.

So how do you break down the fourth wall (so to speak)?  Let’s take a look at some strategies by industry.

  • Fashion: Fashionistas would die for the chance to join a Google+ Hangout with Christian Louboutin and ask him directly about his inspiration! Fashion fans are hungry for insider information about their favorite designers and upcoming trends.  Reveal exclusive images of patterns or fabrics being considered for upcoming lines and get their feedback.  Give sneak peaks of what’s coming and they’ll pledge their loyalty to your G+ Page.
  • Retail: Retailers have some of the most loyal fans!  Share photos of your engineers or design team working on upcoming products.  Share sketches and mock ups and bring viewers in on the process of how it travels from concept to completion – all while building enthusiasm for upcoming products.
  • Food and Dining:  What does it look like in the kitchen on a busy Saturday night?  Foodies would love to see videos of their favorite restaurant’s head chef creating that night’s special.
  • Art: Museums should regularly feature Curator Hangouts, where art lovers can ask questions about current exhibits and the specific artists or pieces on display.   I would love if galleries gave a behind the scenes look at where artwork is stored when not on display or posted video of a gallery going from blank walls to a newly launched exhibit in fast motion.  Give first looks at newly acquired artwork before it even goes on the walls!
  • Tech Companies:  Set up G+ Events for new product launches and let your fans share the first photos and reactions in one place in real time to amplify their excitement!

These strategies are just a start so use them as a launching pad.  Google+ is still considered somewhat of an underground social network.  It’s the perfect place to make your fans feel like “insiders” with rare glimpses into your business that they won’t find anywhere else.

I know I only covered a handful of industries, so feel free to submit others in the Comments below or on my Google+ Page and I’d be happy to offer some strategies for those as well.  What ideas would you suggest for Google+ business pages?

This blog is part of a week long Google+ series.  To read more about G+, choose any of the blogs below:

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Join Google+ … Before Your Fans Leave You on Facebook

Before I offer some Google+ strategies for specific businesses, let’s talk about why your fans are getting sick of your Facebook and Twitter Pages.  There is a big difference between an incredible brand and incredible social media.  Don’t fool yourself into thinking that just because a page has a massive following that their social media is all that exciting to their followers.

Initially, social media was an opportunity for brands to show a little personality and interact directly with their customers.  But just like anything else, brands went from not having a clue how to do that to perfecting it to the point that everyone follows the same formula and posts are starting to look remarkably similar.  Don’t believe me?  Take a look at posts about the 2012 Olympics by some top brands.

Olympics Facebook Posts

Don’t get me wrong, some brands still feature a unique social media persona.  Applebee’s Lunch Decoy is pretty darn clever and show’s a sense of humor you don’t always see on brand pages.  But just for fun, visit a handful of Facebook pages and count how many times you see the following posts from the past week: Caption Contest, Fill in the Blank, Open-Ended (but mundane) question, sweepstakes, or the celebration of a weird holidays like National Cheesecake, Chocolate, or Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Retailers are especially guilty of falling into a routine of formulaic posts that get plenty of Likes and Comments, but more so because the brand itself is so beloved – not because the content itself is all that interesting.  As you read through brand posts, start asking yourself, “If this was a small no name brand, would anyone respond to this content?”

In a weird sort of way, these are the types of posts that fans have come to expect on Facebook.  They’re easy to Like and comment on and there’s an unending stream of sweepstakes and contests.  Unfortunately, they’re also easy to tune out after a while when you see the same repetitive content in your News Feed.

Google+ is an opportunity to return to the foundation of what draws your clients and customers into Social Media Marketing in the first place – Authenticity and transparency.  In my opinion, exclusivity is key to Google+ strategy.  Offer an experience that fans and potential followers can’t get on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or your website.   One strategy is to remove the veil to reveal a behind-the-scenes look at your business, your products, your employees, and more.

Tomorrow’s blog will offer some industry specific strategies and content ideas that you can start implementing on your G+ Page right away.

This blog is part of a week long Google+ series.  To read more about G+, choose any of the blogs below:

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Go on a Google+ Binge

Google+ IconCome along with me on a Google+ binge!  Starting last week, I opted to make G+ my primary social network.  This network is superior to its competitors in so many ways, but suffers from one big drawback…. none of my friends are on it.  Because of that reason, I’ve been reluctant to dive in headfirst.  Now that I’ve embraced it completely, I can’t get enough.

As part of my G+ binge I will be posting a series of G+ related blogs over the next week or two addressing:

  • Google+ strategies for different businesses and industries
  • Why G+ isn’t a powerhouse… yet
  • The G+ Wishlist!  Which features are we dying for Google to roll out
  • The best of G+: Which accounts should be in your Circles

Here’s how you can binge it up on Google+ with me:

Fill your calendar with G+ Events:  Scroll through the endless list of public events on G+ and find one that floats your boat.  Whether it’s watching the Full Moon at the Golden Gate Bridge  or joining the NASA Mars Rover Landing Party  you’ll there really is something for everyone.  You’ll get an opportunity to share photos and comments with others who are either physically at the event or just following online – all in real time.  Some of the most amazing 2012 Olympics photos I’ve seen were posted to the Opening Ceremonies Event Page Worldwide Watch Party.

Opening Ceremony G+ Event

2012 London Olympics

Achieve Super User Status: Google Local is alive and well and teaming with Zagat to review and score local businesses.  As a Super User, your reviews will be marked as a such and carry more weight, meaning you get to influence the search rankings in your area.

Start by reviewing a lot of Google Local listings.  I’ve read that 50 is the number to meet, but I’m not entirely sure.  It’s also important that other people Like your reviews so make sure you include some really useful tips.  The more you review, the more likely it is that you’ll get some Likes.

G+ TIP: If you find any inaccuracies or missing information in a listing, click on the button to review the listing, then click “Edit Business Details” in the bottom right hand corner of the pop up.  That will allow you to suggest alterations to Google. 

Editing G+ Local

Google Plus Local

Embrace the Circle: The best part about Circles is your ability to filter your stream by different topics and groups of people.  When I want to see what’s going on with the people closest to me, I click on “Friends and Family.”  When I want the latest and greatest in Social Media, I’ve got a separate circle for that.  If I just want to be surprised, I click on my “Daily Dose of Interesting” Circle.

The point is that no matter what I’m interested in or if I want to interact with close friends or virtual strangers that share my interests, I can easily bounce from one group to the next.

G+ Tip: Check out the sliding bar at the top of a filtered stream.  This lets you control how much content from that particular Circle appears in your Home stream.

G+ Slider

Spread the Word: Let’s face it.  The only reason not to be on G+ is that a good chunk of your friends haven’t migrated over.  Convince one other person to go on a G+ binge with you.  In the meantime, circle me and that will be at least one more friendly face for you to connect with.

What are you waiting for?  Get your binge off to the right start by letting me know what your thoughts are about Google+.  I want to know what you like, but also what’s driving you nuts.

Happy Binging!

This blog is part of a week long Google+ series.  To read more about G+, choose any of the blogs below:

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Mark My Words. This is where Social Networks are heading – PART 2

Facebook and Twitter were two very different animals… until Google+ hit the scene.   G+ developed their network around the most popular features of Twitter and Facebook and addressed their deficits by creating Circles.  Facebook in turn stole the Circles idea.  Until recently, Social Networks have pretended that there’s no such thing as competition.  But when they roll out features that bear a striking resemblance to their rivals’, it becomes obvious that they’re paying attention.  They try to play it cool, but they are freaking out!  The new competitive pressure being placed on companies like Facebook and Twitter will completely shift the way they operate.

The more that each network resembles the next, the less incentives we have to create multiple profiles and visit each on a regular basis.  Dashboards like TweetDeck, SproutSocial, and Hootsuite allow us to check several profiles in a single place, but somehow lack the same sense of community provided by the networks themselves.  The bottom line is that few users will visit multiple networks every day and dashboards are just not as fun and community centric as the real deal.  So what’s the solution?  Social Networks will become more like dashboards.

I call this Open Architecture – meaning at some point, I will be able to settle on the network that I prefer but still interact with my friends from outside networks.  How is that any different than a phone company?  The plans, phones, and features that distinguish one cell phone company from another are minimal and easily copied – rollover minutes, touch screens, family plans.  Instead they compete on customer service, coverage, and market share to draw in customers.

I have been an ATT customer for almost 15 years (long before there was such thing as an iPhone).  They reward me for calling people within my network but that doesn’t stop me from calling my brother who has Verizon.  We each communicate over the phones and company we like the best, but we don’t all have to be on the same network to do so.

Social Networks will start taking a cue from the phone companies.  Google already allows users to post their G+ stream to Twitter and Facebook – essentially turning those sites into dashboards.  Facebook will fight this with every ounce of their being, and rightfully so.  (After all, they do have the largest market share when it comes to Social Network users.)  But at the end of the day, the Network that becomes the best dashboard, will get the most traffic.  Facebook will have to follow suit just like they did with their reactions to video chat and Circles.

I love competition.  Imagine how hard Networks would fight over you, the user, if you could easily transfer your profile, contacts, and photos to a different network of your choice – just like phone companies let you keep your number when you make a switch and help you transfer your contacts from phone to phone.

As a consumer I don’t want to be taken for granted.  I love seeing Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and imminent newcomers fight over my business.  Competition is a good thing.  The Networks that embrace it will become giants.  The ones that pretend it doesn’t exist will find they have a lot in common with MySpace.

Check out Part 1 of “Mark My Words. This is Where Social Networks are Heading

Image courtesy of http://ow.ly/aukaw 

Mark My Words. This is where Social Networks are heading – PART 1

I just learned that the small town I used to live in will soon have their own Social Network.  This is the type of town where seven degrees of separation should be more like two.  Everyone knows everyone and they’re all up in each other’s business.  I love this town, but when I read this email suggesting how necessary this Network would be … well to be honest… I had a pretty good laugh.  This is the type of town where if you sneeze, 5 minutes later, someone from across town will call you to say God Bless You.

No offense to Small Town, USA but when they start launching their own Social Network, you know the industry is getting saturated.   Just like any other industry this can mean only one thing.  We’re about to see a fundamental shift in the way Social Networks operate.  In addition to the niche networks that are town-specific, occupation-specific, or even beer-specific, the titans of industry are lining up to launch their answers to Facebook and Twitter. 

Only weeks after Google+ invites began hitting our email boxes, Microsoft “accidentally” revealed the home page of their creation, Tulalip.  Even as the tech obsessed debate the staying power of Google+, details are surfacing regarding Twitter cofounders’ next venture, Lift, for people who have potential – unlike the losers on all the other networks (I kid. I kid).  In the next two months, we’ll even see China’s version of Twitter, Sina Weibo, offered in English.

As more Networks come to the table, each struggles to create THE feature that will win over users…  or to STEAL the feature that is getting other networks noticed.  Not surprisingly, Facebook’s new Privacy tool sure looks a lot like Google Circles.  The more Networks try to stand out from one another, the more they resemble each other.  In a strange way, competition is leading to sameness.

People love to debate which Social Network is better?  But at their most basic level, each one is simply some combination of the following: Friends, Followers, Posts, IMs, DMs, media, Circles, Liking, and Checking In.  That’s it.  Each new network claims they’re something special compared to the others, but realistically, they’ve just developed a different combination of the above… or maybe they’ve just applied a tested combination to a different demographic – say Small Town, USA.

Competition is a relatively new concept for companies like Facebook.  I love seeing Networks work a little harder to satisfy users!  It makes companies better.  It makes them work harder to win over consumers and give us the features we crave.  But when competition leads to uniformity, it’s a game changer.  Most people will not regularly check in to three or four big name Social Networks and then throw in a couple Niche networks to cover their home town and their hobbies –especially if they’re the same thing at their core.  So how will this change the entire Social Networking landscape as we know it?

Check back for Part 2 for my prediction.  Then be sure to mention it to your friends so that when it comes to fruition they can call you a genius.

Google Plus You Minus Facebook

It doesn’t matter how good your Social Network is if you can’t build a hardcore fan base.  Google+ has yet to open to the public but has already mobilized an army of dedicated users offering rave reviews about its awesomeness.  So long as Google+ Beta is an invite only club, they continue to create a pool of Early Adopters who will commit their undying support for this new venture and create a buzz more valuable than any purchased advertising.  Google has cleverly found a way to grow their army of Early Adopters exponentially before ever officially launching their new network to the public.

Being an Early Adopter is a badge of pride and a difficult bond to break.  My husband STILL brags about the fact that he joined Facebook when it was called THE Facebook and required a college email address to sign up.  Twitter’s initial launch fell flat until they followed their small fan base to SXSW.  They didn’t just offer the tech savvy audience a sneak peak at the new network but the elite experience of giving it a spin at a once in a lifetime event. In both instances, the networks created Early Adopters who became their most diehard fans and biggest cheerleaders.

Google+ Beta is no different.  Everyone seems to be in agreement: It’s a polished, super simplified version of Facebook… and people LOVE it!  I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve fallen prey to the Early Adopter Syndrome.   I know I’m not a hotshot, but when my Google+ invite finally arrived, I became a trendsetter (at least in my own mind).  I imagine this must be what motivates Apple fanatics to sleep outside an Apple store before a big launch just to be the first to have the new iWhatever.  Especially when they know full well that everyone and their mom will have one of their own in a couple days.

There is one more thing worth mentioning about the much coveted Google+ invite.  It doesn’t have to come from Google, just someone who has a Google+ account.  In fact anywhere you go online you can find someone willing to spread the invite love around.  So an invite is not just an invite, it’s the keys to the city.  It allows you to invite as many people (with gmail accounts) as you want.  Now you’re not only an Early Adopter but you get to allow other people to claim the same title.  While in Beta, it may not be open to the public, but it’s very much open to the public.  Even I’m guilty of sending invites to online strangers anxious to be the first of their friends to try it out.

It’s a brilliant move on Google’s part.  As invites spread like wildfire, it still maintains its exclusive feel making every new user feel like a trendsetter and thus developing a solid bond with the new network.  Being an Early Adopter means you get to be part of something big before it becomes big.  You feel invested and loyal.  My hat is off to the marketing geniuses behind Google.  Their Early Adopter plan is simple but genius – exactly how the first users describe Google+.