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brand marketing, Google+, secrets of social media, Social Media 101, trending now

Trending Now: What Business Owners Need to Know About Google+

Do you have questions about Google+? I figured you did. In no particular order, here are the top 4 questions I have received from business owners about Google+.

Is this Google’s first attempt at a social media platform?
Hardly. Here’s a brief timeline of Google’s failures and…failures.

  • January 2004 – One month before Facebook makes it’s debut, Google introduces Orkut. Oh wait, you never heard of it? Don’t worry, you are not alone.
  • November 2007 – Google gets creative and tries to start a think-tank of social media influencers to play in the same sandbox with Open Social. This would have been great if Facebook decided to join, but they didn’t so this became Google’s latest flop.
  • 2009 – Google launches Google Wave in an effort to get people to collaborate online in waves and send messages and yada, yada, yada. Outside of the techie community, this didn’t catch on. It was viewed as too confusing and people lost interest. Another fail.
  • 2009 (again) – What’s that sound? It’s Google Buzz, and people actually were receptive to this rendition of social networking! It allowed Gmail users to incorporate Facebook and Twitter into their accounts and create a social network from your email contacts. Great, right? But Google forgot to launch an external test with users of this platform. Oops. This resulted in contacts from your address book learning who else was in your address book. Did you tell your girlfriend that you deleted your ex’s phone number, but you secretly kept in your Google Contacts? She knows now. Needless to say, this resulted in a “you-know-what” storm for Gmail users and Google, and this was phased out quietly. 0 for 4.
  • June 28, 2011 – Google+ (Code Name: Emerald Sea) is announced and the crowd goes wild. Select invitations are emailed while the rest of the world pouts and (im)patiently waits their turn to create a profile.

Is Google+ a threat to Facebook? What does Zuckerberg have to say about all of this?

In the super important announcement Facebook had yesterday, he mentioned that Facebook is all about rolling out lots of apps over the next five years and that they have partnered with Skype to introduce video chat. “I view a lot of [the Google+ features] as validation as to how the next five years are going to play out,” he noted during his talk. If I were Zuckerberg, I would be scared because Google already has hundreds of millions of members, most of who love the company. In a recent survey, Facebook ranked slightly higher than the IRS in a customer satisfaction survey.

What is Google’s plan for this new platform? Is it supposed to replace all other social networks?
While the quest for world domination is being pursued by Apple, Facebook, YouTube and more, the premise of Google+ is to connect and share with people regardless of their affiliation with Google+.

Finally, there is a social media platform that is inclusive, not exclusive, and allows you to share specific information with specific people. Worried about your boss seeing your Spring Break and drunken Halloween party pictures? Circles prevents this. Create a “Circle of Family” or a “Circle of BFFs” or a “Circle of Twilight Enthusiasts”, whatever you want. You can share your Disney World vacation pictures with family, your Vegas bachelorette pictures with your girlfriends and converse with your fellow booklovers about your favorite chapters.

The best thing about Circles is that you don’t have to be a Google+ user or even a Gmail user to receive information within this circle. You can still be included on communication via your own email address from the various members of the Circle. So, if it took your dad ten attempts to upload a photo on Facebook and then he posted it rotated counterclockwise at a 90 degree angle, just include him in your Family circle and keep it moving. He does not need the Google+ account.

Also, I like Sparks. It lets you connect with subjects, hobbies and other general stuff that sparks your interest, and potentially make more friends. I would love to see how this addition becomes more sophisticated over time.

Oh, and you can read your email and enjoy other applications as Google+ runs on your screen. No need to flip back and forth between tabs and windows.

Google has so much faith in this new endeavor that Picassa & Blogger are being rebranded to Google Photos and Google Blog. These changes will go live on July 31st, which also happens to be the last day to make your Google profile public, or it will be deleted. If you have a Gmail address, you have a Google profile. Yes, Google wants everyone on its network to be public.

What is no more? Google Realtime Search – this was pretty cool because it displayed tweets and Facebook posts in search results on Google. That meant, if you created a post about how much you enjoyed reading Bossypants (Tina Fey’s autobiography), someone searching for “Bossypants” on Google may see your post appear on the first page of results. There’s no doubt that Bing can benefit from this loss.

Also, Google is looking to purchase Hulu. Preemptive strike against Apple TV? Only time will tell.

What benefit will Google+ have for business owners?

Watch for Google+ Brand Pages to emerge in about two weeks – Ford, MTV and Mashable will be among the very first to try out the technology. Don’t rush to create a Google+ page for your business if you receive an invite…Google is working on an “experience” for business owners that should be rolling out for us commoners soon. Probably by the end of this month.

If you have a Google+ invite and try to set up a false company’s profile, you will lose your access. Google has been vigilant about taking down fake pages 🙂

Key Feature for Businesses  the Hangout – companies to be able to have face-to-face meetings with their customers on a regular basis. That’s not remarkable, but the bandwidth to allow 10 chat screens in your meeting at once is. The person who has the floor will have the largest screen out of the 10, but you can view everyone as if you are sitting in your very own virtual boardroom.

Don’t fall for the scams – of course, when there is lots of popularity around an interactive entity, there are scams and viruses. If you are looking for the official link to receive a Google+ invite, visit https://services.google.com/fb/forms/googleplus/. If you would like to try a demo of Google+, visit http://www.google.com/intl/en/+/demo.

Google is practicing a launch technique called “rolling thunder”, in which they launch features that have already been tested and approved in bite sized pieces. There are over 10o application launches scheduled for Google+ thus far.

In my social media manager opinion, I think this iteration of Google social networking has promise, but they need to pull people from Facebook. There is no feature (yet) that allows users to import their Facebook friends to Google+, and the success of any social network lies in getting your friends to participate.

I’ll keep you posted as I hear more – and as I receive my invite 🙂

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About Lauren Young

Award-winning author of "Pour - Marketing Success Starts with the Right Ingredients", "Stir - Achieving the Perfect Marketing Mix" and the CEO/Founder of Freshly Baked Communications and Knead to Rise. Visit my website at http://www.FBC-Chicago.com.

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