So you just started getting the hang of how to promote yourself or your business online in Social Media marketing channels like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn when this little startup named Google has to throw a monkey wrench into the mix by introducing their own network aptly named, Google+. I mean really! Who do they think they are! It as if we don’t have enough things to do in our everyday lives to bedistracted with this new shiny object. Should I be an early adapter and learn the ins and outs before it goes mainstream or wait and see if it catches on because after all I could potentially be wasting my time investing in a platform that will never go anywhere? Facebook is a giant juggernaut that has been going unchallenged for several years now, but not for the lack of trying on Google’s part with such past failures of Orkut, Google Wave, and Google Buzz. So why do people think it will be any different this time?
The quick and simple answer is: Circles. Google+ changes the way we share information with each other. Unlike Facebook where both parties have to be connected in order to share information or re-share information Google+ allows the end user to decidewhat information they want to shareand with whom. While you can do this with Facebook the simplicity for doing so through the Graphic User Interface (GUI) is just not intuitive. As a close comparison think about it in terms of the simplicity of navigation on Apple products versus Microsoft products or oddly enough Google as Apple and Facebook as Microsoft. These days everything is about speed, convenience and accomplishing tasks without being bogged down by bulky software that is feature rich. The problem with this is it takes too many clicks that even the most advanced user gets frustrated quickly.
The truth is there will probably never be that one piece of software that does everything you want it to do. It is a myth and rather than strive for that Utopian technology. Google, as well as others, realize the competition is about focusing on the “best-in-class” offerings. Having the feature rich mindset is a common and often overlooked issue that was a contributing factor to the failure of Google Wave. The evolution of clean back-end coding, cloud computing, and HTML 5 has re-energized and propelled technology to the next level when addressing end user wants and needs.
Click this link to grab one of my invites to G+ and sign up RIGHT NOW!
The long answer is: Over the years Google has evolved from just being known as a search engine company into a software as a service (SaaS) company with an a la carte ecosystem.
- Gmail to compete with Yahoo and Microsoft’s Hotmail
- Chrome to compete with Microsoft Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox
- Maps has given us an alternative to Mapquest
- Places to compete with Yellow Pages
- Youtube to compete with television, radio, Netflix, and Hulu
- Docs was made to compete with Microsoft Office and Open Office
- Translate for communicating to your global team or customer base
- Checkout as an alternative to Paypal and other merchant services
- Reader to compete with traditional news services
- Voice and Talk to compete with Skype.
- Hangouts to compete with Skype
- Huddle to compete with GroupMe and Beluga
Google has made Google+ the hubspot for tying this ecosystem together in being the “one stop shop” for your social commerce, business collaboration, and entertainment needs. The overlapping of these traditionally separate business functions and online consumer behaviors has led to hybrid and hyper real-time engagement/interaction. This includes getting back to Google’s bread and butter. Answering questions. Remember Quora?
In the near future this will lead to the ever growing mobile market with Android and better communications systems:
- Google Wallet to decrease the amount of plastic in our pocket.
- Google Offers to compete with Groupon and Living Social.
- Google+ Hangouts expand to compete with WebEx and GoToMeeting.
- Google Docs will expand to compete with 37 Signals and ZoHo offerings.
Are you starting to see a pattern forming? You should. In reality Google is looking at Google+ as the missing piece of the puzzle and part of bigger picture for taking Google, the business, to the next level. Google+ is changing the way we do business – period. The ultimate dream of any business comes down to extending a customer’s or potential customer’s attention span for more than average time, which according to studies is currently seven seconds. Aside from that the statistics for Google+ growth will only strengthen the staggering statistics of the brand and its products as a whole. This is a perfect example of Wired’s, Chris Anderson’s freemium model. Most of Google’s products are free. Google’s revenue model comes from having the most having the most eyeballs for the longest amount of time and return visitors. You could even say they “have an app for that” in yet another useful product with Google Analytics. Ok. It really isn’t that simple, but time spent on site or decreasing the bounce rate drives decision makers in the advertising industry on where they spend their money. Google+ creates the ultimate demographic tracking grid for marketers and advertisers to pull from a readymade Management Information System (MIS) to drill down their target audience without the necessity of a focus group. Creator of MySpace and big Google brand advocate, Tom Anderson reinforces this sentiment on why Google+ will succeed whether you use it or not.
Sure you have Twitter and LinkedIn, but they have continued to coexist because of unique offerings to the niche consumer market place. However, Google+ is a big news because it directly competes with Facebook for the most active users and eyeballs for marketers to influence. All the industry experts that follow technology trends closely started to ask, “Who will be the next Facebook?” as they tend to do in an innovation type environment like tech. Guess what? It was right under our nose and we should have seen the warning signs, especially Mark Zuckerburg, when Google made a subtle announcement that it would start to include social engagement from the aforementioned social networks in its search results. Now much like the “Like” button Google+ has the “+1” button and is helping populate organic search results when an end user types a query into the most popular search engine in the world. We are already starting to see these results show up in the search engine results page (SERP).
Actually, the truth is while it maybe a shiny object currently that has room for improvement. Two major hurdles is that they haven’t made business pages yet (coming soon) and they are seeing a little feedback with users wanting to use pseudonyms in place of their real names because real names can put political dissidents, domestic violence victims and others in danger. Google chairman, Eric Schmidt puts it best, “G+ is completely optional. No one is forcing you to use it. It’s obvious for people at risk if they use their real names, they shouldn’t use G+. It is meant as an identity service for reputation management.” This is actually a sentiment that has long been popularized by personal brand advocates like, Dan Schwabel in his book, Me 2.0 Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success. Currently other the only other network that has a way of verifying profiles for authenticity is Twitter. Google is slowly rolling out its own verified profiles. In my opinion, the pseudonym issue is a moot point, but I agree with Silicon Valley writer Mike Elgan who writes, “Google’s window of opportunity for Google+ to succeed is very small and closing if not made a free sign-up service for everyone, very soon.” The good thing about Google+ is that the project team lead by Vic Gundotra and Bradley Horowitz is very responsive to user feedback and rolling out changes to current features and implementing new ones. They are doing a great job considering that the name on the door is Google, but people need to keep in mind it is a massive undertaking. I would even go so far as to be cliche and say, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” …and neither was Facebook lest we forget.
This is why conversational content marketing is so important to an online strategy because no matter the tools end users are looking for value-added information to consume and or convert. At the end of the day this blog post will probably be out of date and irrelevant in a couple of months from now because the tools and platforms will have changed, but the content publication cycles will stay the same. As a consumer or business owner it is important to understand human behavior and adapt to proven technology trends rather than put too much focus on the tools themselves or any one channel of engagement opportunity. Angela Hausman, an Associate Professor of Marketing at Howard University, gives her take on popular blogger and author, Jay Baer’s commentary on whether or not technology is ruining the online community. There are literally new tools and open API driven plugins, using the freemium model, being released everyday to compete with Google and for your attention. If you keep this in mindset and not skill set in your box of ammo you will undoubtedly reach and grow your business and or personal brand goals. Let the cream rise to the top.
So I have one question for you… Where do you go when you’re not sure of the answer to a question?
If you’re not on G+ already – click this link and grab one of my limited invites or just let me know you want an invite and I’ll send you one. I have a bunch to give out and I want you there with me.