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Does Google Plus Change Everything

Marketing podcast with Chris Brogan (Click to play or right click and “Save As” to download – Subscribe now via iTunes or subscribe via other RSS device (Google Listen)

Google+ for businessThere certainly are those that believe Google has landed a game changer with their social network Google+ and those that are ready to claim it’s a nice niche platform for techie kind of people.

Personally, I think it’s currently the best platform for business in terms of the functionality it offers, but of course is currently lacking the dedicated user base making it hard to imagine a business setting up shop there exclusively.

Even with that limitation Google+ has indeed changed some things already.

  • Its existence can certainly claim credit for a number of enhancements for business users rushed in recently by Facebook.
  • SEO firms are both nervous and giddy about Google’s integration of G+ with search
  • Google+ ties together many of Google’s already entrenched, but untethered services such as Picasa, YouTube, GMail and Apps.

My guest for this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is  and author of Google+ for Business: How Google’s Social Network Changes Everything and Google+ evangelist Chris Brogan

Brogan boldly and passionate professes, as the title of the book suggests, that Google+ is the next super power in the social network game and cares little that Facebook has hundreds of millions of users more. It’s the Google connection and the Google dominance in other important business areas that intrigues and excites Brogan most.

Again, from a strictly business point of view, I have to agree. Now is the time to grab, build and enhance your Google+ profile and brand page. This action will never hurt you and you may discover that actively placing content from your blog on Google+ is a way to get your content indexed by Google even faster.

One of the things I like most about Brogan’s book, however, is that while he firmly supports the use of Google+ for business, much of the advice he gives about how to use it is solid advice for anyone that wants to build a following, find great content and engage users on any platform.

You can listen to the show by subscribing the feed in iTunes or a variety of other free services such as Google Listen (Use this RSS feed) or you can buy the Duct Tape Marketing iPhone app. (iTunes link – Cost is $2.99) or

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to All the Google Plus Hype

I suspect my friends camped firmly in the Google+ part of town won’t like hearing this, but one of the benefits of Google+ is that Facebook got better.

Facebook subscribers

Sure, you can claim, and you would be right, that many of the recent changes at Facebook are in response to Google+ features, but that’s the very nature of competition now isn’t it?

It’s not my intent in this post to promote Facebook or even analyze Google+ as much as to point out some recent observations based on my own experience.

I joined Facebook in 2007, just after the f8 conference announcement that non-edu stalkers (I mean people) could join. For some mild entertainment you might check out this post – My Daughters Are So Pissed.

In the time since joining, I’ve amassed somewhere around 3700 “friends” and with the subsequent launch of pages, over 14,000 fans. One of the big changes announced as part of a fairly significant recent Facebook overhaul is the ability to create “public” status updates and the ability for people (non friended) to subscribe to those updates.

In just over a month, I’ve already amassed around 3700 “subscribers” and, perhaps more significantly, traffic to my site from Facebook has skyrocketed. In addition, engagement on my “personal” profile, the feed that public subscribers have access to, has also increased dramatically.

Facebook doesn’t break things down on personal profiles to the level that would allow me to be certain where the new traffic and engagement burst is coming from, but a scan of the feed tells me that the public subscriber pool is a very important new source of Facebook traffic and engagement and is one that marketers should start to understand and embrace.

The use of a Facebook profile for business purposes is still technically a violation of Facebook TOS, but there’s little denying this new tool could prove significant for marketers. I imagine the impact for high people such as, say, Robert Scoble for instance, who has drawn over 73,000 subscribers to date, has been hard to ignore.

Ironically, the addition of public sharing, a feature that runs counter to Facebook’s DNA is getting a great deal of user acceptance, while Google+ Circles, the noted Facebook killer feature, isn’t proving as significant as once assumed.

It seems that while we all say we want the ability to create different groups of people for different forms of communication in social networks, most of us are actually still publishing a large percentage of our updates to the masses.

While I initially created many Circles on Google+ and put in some work creating Groups on Facebook, I rarely segment my content on either. Now, this may be simply telling of how I use these networks, but a scan of my feeds shows me that I’m not alone.

Perhaps it’s simply a matter of laziness or a measure of the increased use of networks as broadcast and awareness creating platforms, but for now, Facebook has stemmed the tide of any sign of mass abandonment

Of course all bets are off this time next week or so as Google continues to find more and more ways to make Google+ part of how we communicate with all things Google in our lives.

How to Delete a Google Plus Brand Page

Lots of people are jumping in and playing around with the new Google+ Brand Pages for good and bad.

2 questions have come up repeatedly so I thought I would shoot a quick how to video:

1) How do I find my page after I sign back in?

2) How do I delete a page if I don’t want it?

 

Why My Search Engine Use Is Dwindling and Why Yours Will Too

Some days I pretty much live online. When I have a question, need a phone number, am bored, I go online to find what I need. Online behavior has supplanted many things that simply used to be.

I no longer have a use for phone directories, or for that matter phones, and my online content consumption has done away with my need for a newspaper and television.

Recently, however, I’ve noticed a shift in one very specific aspect of my online behavior, one that will have growing significance for marketers, and that’s in the area of search. Was a time when I would conduct dozens, sometimes hundreds, of searches using my search engine of choice. (I’ve been at this a while so for now it’s Google, but there was a time when a tool called AltaVista rocked the house.)

My use of search engine technology is slowly being replaced by the use of apps that provide me with answers relevant to my personal needs. My guess is that while you may not have taken note, you’re doing less and less in search engines and more and more in answer engines.

This trend highlights the marketers need to go beyond SEO and PPC and move even deeper into the worlds of social networks, mobile marketing and app based local marketplaces.

Apps inside social networks are providing answers. Apps inside social bookmark sites are providing interesting reading. Apps in content curation tools like Storify are providing relevant context for content. Apps on mobile devices, such as Yelp’s, are helping you find bars and restaurants. Apps using QR readers are helping you find deeper information on companies and products. Apps are providing you with sports scores, movie times, videos and images.

One of the elements of the new iPhone 4S that is getting a great deal of buzz is the Siri app. This app, billed as your personal assistant, is a potential game changer. A great deal of the buzz is still over the coolness factor and all the things it can do for you, but I think the real issue is what it doesn’t do for you – it doesn’t give you search engine results.

Think about how the world of search changes if Siri and the third party tools that one hopes Apple and other innovators create becomes habit. Right now the Siri app gives you answers that are personalized for you without giving you thousands of search results. If Siri gets very good at this kind of thing, people may ditch search engines for all but pure and competitive research.

Since Google’s primary revenue engine feeds on advertising in search, the trend of moving to apps that bypass Google altogether is a tremendous threat and I think it’s safe to say you can look for this kind of answer engine technology on a host of Android phones in the near future.

So, what about you, think about it a minute, are you moving your search behavior to apps? What does this mean for your business? What does this trend suggest for you in 2012?

Getting the Google Plus Conversation Right

If you still haven’t joined Google Plus click here – 150 invites

Google Plus conversations

Benson Kua via Flickr

One of the most interesting things about Google’s new social network, Google Plus, is the conversation that participation generates.

Some still attribute this to the newness factor, but it’s one of the things that really makes Google Plus exciting right now.

Posting is different

One of my first observations is about the kind of content that attracts the most interest. Simply republishing blog posts is not necessarily the best way to generate conversation. Publishing a somewhat divisive opinion contained in a blog post is. Posting images and videos is. Posting opinions is. Posting observations is.

There are essentially three ways for people to interact with your content on Google Plus. They can +1 it, share it and make a comment on it. In my experience so far, people +1 something as a way of saying – I like that. They share as a way of saying I want people that I’m connected with to see that (it’s one way people fill up their own stream.) They make comments when they want to agree or disagree or in response to a question.

Because of the way the entire content and conversation package is displayed on Google Plus the comments are a bigger part of how the conversation ends up then they might be on the more traditional blogging format.

Experiment with content

Noting some of the differences stated above has me playing around with getting the mix right, but I can say it’s a work in progress. Sometimes you make a simple observation and find the conversation wanders into considering your own mortality.

Here are a handful of posts that show the different kinds of engagement for different kinds of content with the engagement numbers for each.

Here’s where I asked people what they +1 or share – questions draw comments for obvious reasons – +4, 5 shares, 39 comments

Here’s where I suggested that we need prepare students better for the reality of a digital world – opinions can draw all three – +18, 17 shares, 26 comments

Here’s where I uploaded a photo that contained an interesting reflection my beer glass made on the bar+38, 3 shares, 29 comments – including one telling me I was old and thought my life was over, but pretty amazing to think that an image, uploaded in real time would draw this much conversation – images draw lots of +1 and get comments if they are odd, but don’t draw many shares unless they are magnificent (photographers are finding a real home here)

Here’s a repost of a short YouTube video about giving referrals (another interesting thing about G+, videos, even ones you’ve previously posted elsewhere, do very well) – +31, 25 shares, 24 comments – short, inspiring videos can draw lots of attention.

Here’s another one that’s just an image from a photo shoot for a magazine – okay, it’s a pretty cool photo, but look at the conversation – +56, 1 share, 48 comments – again, another case of an image drawing +1 and comments, but not as many shares.

And lastly – Here’s where I created a graphic that stated something that the early users of Google Plus were all thinking, but I was one of the first to capture it I guess – The brutally honest guide to naming circles on Google+ +78, 2029 shares, 96 comments – one of the most shared images of all time mainly because it contained a powerful insight and the timing was right.

Here’s my advice

Shares are probably the most important if you want to build your audience and get more traffic. Thoughtful insights, useful videos and valuable how to content is what people share. +1s may help some day in search and comments are an important sign of healthy followings, but shares are where it’s at.

Traffic generation

Google Plus is often in the top three spots, and more than once the top spot, in daily traffic to my site. And yet, traffic from other social networks has not dropped. So, making the effort to get your posting on Google Plus right – meaning tailoring it to the Google Plus conversation – is not only worth the effort in terms of traffic, it will certainly be worth it one day in terms of search and is already worth it today in terms of stimulating conversation.

Author Highlighting Is a Google Must for Bloggers

Today’s post may seem like an under the hood, techie kind of tip, and it is that, but it also outlines something content producers and bloggers need to be aware of.

In an effort to place more emphasis on the original authors of content and perhaps further eliminate duplicate content, Google has begun placing great emphasis on an anchor text attribute – rel=”author”

An anchor text attribute is just more information contained in the HMTL code of a link. In this case the use of the author attribute in conjunction with content, such as a blog post, signals search spiders that this is the original author.

So a link to my about us page with attribute would look like this:
a href="http://www.ducttapemarketing.com/about/" rel="author"John Jantsch

The reward for using this attribute has started showing up in search results with the image of the author placed to the right of the results in a growing number of instances. The Google author program kicked off formally a while back with a limited number of well-know bloggers and journalists and is slowly rolling out to others. (Here’s the official Google announcement)

The images Google is showing next to the selected articles are drawn from Google Plus profiles and link back to the author’s profile page. Some people have noted, incorrectly that this is a further extension of active Google+ users into the search results. The author program was actually in place prior to Google Plus and drew originally on the old Google personal profiles. In fact, some of the higher profile authors chosen have very limited Google+ activity.

author highlighting with rel author

Going forward a Google+ account and profile will be part of the deal for those that want to have their images included on original content, but use of the rel=”author” attribute in a very specific fashion is what will ultimately get your content chosen.

The video below, featuring Google spokesperson Matt Cutts, outlines the path Google hopes you’ll take to include the rel=author attribute.

Basically here are the steps:

  • You need to have a link on every page of content that points to the author’s about me page, on the same domain, using the author attribute in the link.
  • The author’s about me page should also point to their Google+ profile.
  • To close the loop, the author’s Google+ profile should point to the author’s about me page.

How to get the author attribute in your links

  1. Go back and put a byline on all pages with articles and add the link to your about me page
  2. Read more about various ways to implement from Google help
  3. On WordPress blogs – you have plug in options, but my advice is start with this post on author highlight from Yoast

Weekend Favs August Six

My weekend blog post routine includes posting links to a handful of tools or great content I ran across during the week.

I don’t go into depth about the finds, but encourage you check them out if they sound interesting. The photo in the post is a favorite for the week from Flickr.

Image Karen Eliot via Flickr

Good stuff I found this week:
Qwerly – tool that lets you mine the social data of your leads and customers and add this data to make your email and marketing materials more personal

Postagram – this iPhone and Android app lets you instantly create and send high quality postcards based on your Instagram or Facebook photos. Imagine visiting a client and then sending a thank you card with an image from their office.

What’s New with Google+ – Official Google blog featuring updates, release notes and announcements for the increasingly popular Google+ platform

Everything You’ve Heard About Google+ Is Wrong

Google+ ProjectNow, before my buddy Chris Brogan, who currently seems obsessed with Google+, gets riled up, let me explain that title.

It’s not that any one specific thing being professed is wrong, it’s just that it’s probably wrong for your situation. See, that’s the problem with any set of experts going on about this new tool or that new tool – They can’t possibly know your objectives, your constraints, and your resources.

So, no matter what’s being said about how to use G+, or Facebook or Twitter or blogs for that matter, you have to decide how to apply it to your world in your own unique way. You have to determine what to leave in, what to leave out. (Nod to Bob Seger)

You will find that you can come to rely on the advice and tutoring of someone that seems to break things down in ways that you can apply (I would like to think I qualify for that designation from time to time), but don’t blindly jump in and do what all the other kids are doing just because someone said that’s the best practice for some new tool.

In your quest to determine if G+ or any new tool makes sense for you, let me leave you with one powerful point of reference – first look for ways to use new tools to create a better, deeper, and richer, experiences with and for your existing customers – if you can do that then the time and resources put into any new shiny object will pay off.