Where Google+ Fits Into The Social Fold


Google+ Adoption Relative to Facebook and Twitter

What does Google+ mean for business and brands?

If you pay attention to the social media world you know about Google+. Now that brands and businesses are beginning to understand the benefit of a well-run social media presence decision makers want to know if they should consider building a presence on Google+ when it opens up to more businesses.

Despite the incredible trajectory Google+ is on, it’s still going to be a while until it makes sense for brands -if it ever does. But that might be a good thing because in my opinion, if it does get to the scale and diversity in users that it would need to broadly appeal to businesses we will need a thoughtfull approach to engaging in the network.

New features refocus on UX and Privacy

Google has built a platform that focuses on privacy and making a social network personal again.

  •  A core element of that approach is Circles. This feature allows users to easily create groups of friends around topics, activities, or relationship type. This means that brands won’t have the luxury of being embedded into the same newsfeed as a person’s friends and family. Rather, it’s likely that if a person does decide to connect with a brand, they will be slotted into a “companies I like” circle. If the content you (and possible brands in your group) don’t offer really compelling value (either in the form of a rich engagement or special deals) your audience won’t bother seeing what you have to say.
  • Video chat and real-time communication are important features for the a richer, more personal experience on the platform. If people take advantage of these features, it will define the norms of engagement. It is difficult for many brands to create a personal feel on their social media assets. Being able to make another big step and do that in the form of video chat or real time conversation will be an added challenge.
  • One factor of “Facebook fatigue” is attributed to the presence of brands on the platform. Many early adopters of Google+ see it as a an opportunity for a social media refresh much like Facebook was for a diluted Myspace experience (yes Myspace still exists.. kind of). This will make people less likely to accept brands on the platform if they feel it will threaten the integrity of the new network they want to build.
Should I start planning my Google+ presence now to get ahead of the curve?
To put it simply… neh. Maybe I should put an asterisk next to that overly confident “neh”. Google+ won’t usurp Facebook given it sticks with the present capabilities and features. Although there has been a big influx of tech forward early adopters, it doesn’t change the game enough to gain broader adoption unless it has something else up its sleeve. Facebook is still where the largest audience is. Despite the 750 Million people on Facebook, the network has changed enough times that norms for sharing in the network are always shifting. Start thinking about Google+ when it comes out with offerings for brands IF that’s where your audience is. Otherwise, your investment will reap bigger returns elsewhere.

Tips for Shaping Your Voice In Social Networks


I’ve seen a lot of brands using automated tools to pump out the same message across social networks to minimize the effort required to reach the broadest audience possible. This is an easy trap to fall into, but ultimately it’s counter-productive.
The way I think about social media’s and how it is used is by considering it the next evolution in how conversation is scaled. In every evolution there are companies that fall in love with the idea of reaching the broadest possible audience and as a result engage in activities that end up damaging their brand. For instance, with postage mail eventually came junk mail. and with email there eventually came SPAM. Here’s an infographic I found that illustrates my point a lot better than I can in words.
Evolution of Spam

Now social media is offering the same opportunity to scale conversation and impact a larger audience, but in a more targeted way. Some brands understand that the key to optimizing engagement in social media lies in delivering value to users and not violating a persons trust to advance the company agenda. The way to nurture that trust and increase advocacy is to engage in a personal level through social media. If users can see through automated postings or re-purposed content that seems contrary to the conversation that should be taking place in the network you shouldn’t be surprised when friends, fans, and followers begin to migrate out of your community.

Here are a couple observations I have made about the two most prominent social networks:

Facebook:

  • People don’t always talk about what they want to talk about, they share things they think they SHOULD be talking about. This is as true for face to face conversations as it is for social media. Depending on what your brand is this changes the type of content you should post here, but video and short articles often resonate the best. Continue reading

Facebook Ditches Places


<img class="aligncenter" title="Facebook Ditches Places" src="http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lqer6snqlA1qbihzpo1_400.jpg&quot; alt="Facebook just announced that it will be abandoning its Places feature on mobile devices. Instead, location will just become a standard part of status updates.
This news comes on the back of data released by Gartner suggesting that Facebook engagement is plateauing. Here’s an excerpt I snagged from my friend Jamie Turner of 60 Second Marketer regarding Facebook’s slowing momentum:

Quick facts:- 31% of early adopters get bored- 24% use social media less than before (37% more than before)- 1 reason: 33% are worried about their personal data, teens another 22%- Gartner surveyed 6,295 users aged between 13 and 74 from 11 markets

These stats coupled with the rocket-like rise of Google+ suggests that Facebook might may have made a couple key mistakes that liken it’s life-cycle to MySpace’s own rise and fall.
The major mistake made by both Facebook and MySpace:
Both platforms chose to innovate around value for advertising rather than users.
MySpace allowed SPAM, advertising, and brands to muddy the UX. Similiarly, Facebook has added features to their platform to provide a carrot for advertisers and brands to jump on the platform. While these may have some value for a large percentage of users (I’m thinking of integration with gaming, and investment in brand pages and e-commerce apps), user experience was an afterthought. The highest ROI for new features should be measured in the ability to reinforce the core value that the network delivers to its core audience, and the value it adds to the overall experience. To stay relevant both platforms should have invested in innovations on the platform that:

a.) Make it easier to manage relationships
b.) Share content they’re interested in
c.) Discover content (including pictures, video of friends) and activities a user may be interested in

… You know, the stuff that they joined the network for in the first place.
I’m not suggesting that Facebook time on top is over by any means. But I do think the networking giant should reassess what the value it provides to users really is.
After all, the success of Facebook and social media in general isn’t attributed to the magic of new technology. Social networks simply lowered barriers and added scale to existing human behaviors that are deeply engrained in all of us: the propensity to share, connect, and be social. Based on the design of Google+, I’m betting they’re thinking the same thing.” width=”400″ height=”300″ />

Facebook just announced that it will be abandoning its Places feature on mobile devices. Instead, location will just become a standard part of status updates.

This news comes on the back of data released by Gartner suggesting that Facebook engagement is plateauing. Here’s an excerpt I snagged from my friend Jamie Turner of 60 Second Marketer regarding Facebook’s slowing momentum:

Quick facts:
- 31% of early adopters get bored
- 24% use social media less than before (37% more than before)
- 1 reason: 33% are worried about their personal data, teens another 22%
- Gartner surveyed 6,295 users aged between 13 and 74 from 11 markets

These stats coupled with the rocket-like rise of Google+ suggests that Facebook might be trying to re-focus it’s energy on the user experience by streamlining some things. By doing so, they will be able to avoid a couple pitfalls that MySpace ran into which lead to their decline.

The major mistake made by MySpace:

MySpace and Facebook shifted their attention to advertisers.

MySpace allowed SPAM, advertising, and brands to muddy the UX. Similiarly, Facebook has added features to their platform to provide a carrot for advertisers and brands to jump on the platform. While these may have some value for a large percentage of users (I’m thinking of integration with gaming, and investment in brand pages and e-commerce apps), user experience was an afterthought. The highest ROI for new features should be measured in the ability to reinforce the core value that the network delivers to its core audience, and the value it adds to the overall experience. To stay relevant both platforms should have invested in innovations on the platform that:

a.) Make it easier to manage relationships

b.) Share content they’re interested in

c.) Discover content (including pictures, video of friends) and activities a user may be interested in

… You know, the stuff that they joined the network for in the first place.

Social networks simply lower barriers and added scale to existing human tendencies that are deeply engrained in all of us: the propensity to share, connect, and be social.