Posts Tagged ‘google’

Google+ Offers Reasons for Conversion

Google+ is still kicking around the social media universe. Even though Google+  hasn’t gotten the expected, there are many reasons for people to invest their time in this growing community.

The main reason is you’re already using and enjoying one or two members of Google’s extensive product family such as search, GMail, Google Docs, etc. By joining Google+, you’re Google experience becomes that more enhanced.

The key issue is that until your friends and family are part of the Google+ community, your interest will be low. Facebook understands social connection, whereas Google+ understands Web creation and integration.

Maybe the two giants can teach each other and together redefine the entire digital industry?

This probably won’t happen, but Google+ has become a lot more appealing since their launch. Many of the features are well conceived and executed, and while it still doesn’t match Facebook’s prowess, it is closing the gap somewhat.

The concept of social circles and hangouts as part of the user experience is really solid, and the way it monitors hot topics is also fairly ingenious.

The ability to add whoever you want seems weird at first, but over time should be seen as unique and innovative. The greatest feature might be to brands, as Google+ offers brands much more opportunities – something Facebook has worked tirelessly to do.

The future might be bright for Google+, but at the end of the day they need users and advocates to convince the masses.

Have you experienced Google+ yet? If not, what are you waiting for?

 

The Facebook and Google Rivalry Heats Up

Facebook and Google, the two digital behemoths, just can’t seem to get along.

Don’t be fooled, this is not a David vs. Goliath situation, but more along the lines of two giants battling it out for digital supremacy.

Back in January, I posted a post article about Google potentially opening the door to search engine rivals. Lo and behold, it seems the door has opened much wider than initially anticipated.

Recently, word leaked that Facebook might be creating a strategy to get into the search engine fray. This is an interesting counter-attack to Google entering into social network (albeit to mixed results) last year.

Facebook may never admit they are going for the jugular, but by assembling a team of engineers to work on a search engine does send a powerful message.

The message is not just directed at Google. It is another sign to users and admirers that Facebook is are more than just a social network; it is quickly trying to become the entire Web.

It’s too early to make assumptions or wonder how a Facebook search engine will improve on Google’s, but you should never underestimate Zuckerberg and company.

This isn’t to say Google is on the precipice of being a thing of the past, but how many more digital markets can Facebook corner before someone has to raise some monopoly and ethics questions, or before others just stop trying.

Social media can be a ruthless world. A world where those on top can find themselves on the bottom very fast. Especially, when it feels at every turn that Facebook has a personal vendetta against you.

Maybe it is more of a David vs. Goliath situation than originally thought.

Google+ Strategy: Cut & Paste Your Facebook Content?

google+“Google+ is a really interesting, cost-effective platform because you can mirror Facebook content” – a PR executive’s interesting take.

As brands scramble to figure out how to effectively use Google+, many of them have jumped on the bandwagon out of necessity more than need whether it makes sense. The embrace of Google+ is driven by the belief that Google will favor Google+ content within its search results, so if you’re not on Google+, you’re doing yourself a disservice.

But what does a brand do with Google+? How or if does it embrace a different approach or content from what’s being done Facebook?

So far, it appears many brands are still trying to figure things out. In the meantime, many brands such as HubSpot and KissMetrics, which rank among the leaders in content marketing, are simply parroting what they do on Google+ with what they’re doing Facebook.

Another intriguing part of Google+, which may have brands thinking twice about how to use it, is a recent comScore report that users only spent an average of 3.3 minutes on Google+ in January 2012, compared with 5.1 minutes in November 2011 and 4.8 minutes in December.

So, what do you think? Are there brands using Google+ in different and creative ways? If so, who are they?

Google+

Is Google+ on the Path to Extinction?

For people who have become enamored with Google+ or simply interested in its birth and rise, it might be time to become an avid user or stop caring.

Last month, Google+ users only spent on average of 3.3 minutes on the service. Sounds downright awful, doesn’t it? Compare this behaviour with Facebook fanatics, who spent 7.5 hours logged in last month. Yes, you read that right.

The sad part of Google+ is the 3.3 minutes actually marks the low point of a three month downward trend; one that will likely  continue unless drastic measures happen soon.

Google has stood by the fledging social network, citing an increase in 50 million users since October. To me, the increase is easy to explain. People are curious so they sign up, only to be underwhelmed and leave with a newfound appreciate for Facebook.

It’s clear any way you cut it, Google+ could go down as the latest social media cautionary tale. The last nail hasn’t hit the coffin, but they need to rethink how to not only acquiring users, but how to engage them. Facebook has this down to a science.

The one element that always seems to be missing from Google+ is the emotional impact. There is an immediate connection made to the content, design and navigation of the stallions such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and yes, even Pinterest.

Google is still banking on Google+ becoming a winner. With the money and power of Google, the lack of traction can not be ignored.

Some pundits are pointing to higher engagement rates in countries outside of North America as a reason for optimism. This shouldn’t be overlooked, but to compete with the top dogs, you better have stellar across the board analytics.

Google+ is on a misdirected path to becoming a footnote in social media history, but as we all know things can change in an instant in the digital world. I wouldn’t rule them out, but I wouldn’t buy their positive spin on their standing either.

More: TechCrunch’s Josh Costine has a post suggesting that Google doesn’t care if people spend little time on Google+ because it’s far more interested in collecting personal information so advertising can be more effectively delivered.

 

Is Flickr Dying? Is Pinterest Partly to Blame?

flickr, pinterest, google+I got a call from a friend yesterday asking about how companies were approaching Google+ these days.

My answer was that Google+ has become a necessity because it seems Google’s search algoritm now favours content posted on Google+ in wake of Search Plus Your World being launched.

So what does Google+ have to do with Flickr?

The more I thought why many companies weren’t really engaged with Google+, the more it struck me that Pinterest is a more compelling option because it provides brands with an engaging place to promote their products and ervices using photos, graphics and video.

That led to the realization Pinterest could shove aside Flickr as the way for brands and individuals to share their photos and videos. As much there isn’t a lot of buzz about Google+, there’s no buzz about Flickr.

And a quick look at Compete.com, shows that Flickr traffic has tumbled by 25% since last May to 18.7 million unique U.S. visitors. Now, 18.7 million unique visitors is still a large number, and there are many people who love Flickr even though there are more interesting options such as 500px.

At the same time, Flickr’s decline shouldn’t be that surprising. Since being purchased by Yahoo!, Flickr hasn’t changed that much at a time when social media has emerged around it. In many respects, Flickr hasn’t kept up with the times and, as a result, it doesn’t have the same appeal.

Note: Flickr will be introducing a new look and feel next week. (via TechCrunch)

Has Google Opened the Door to New Search Rivals?

As Google scrambles to establish a strong social foothold, it has unveiled a new version of its ubiquitous search engine called Search Plus Your World.

While it may make sense for Google’s social strategy, it’s a controversial move because it arguably biases search results by putting Google+ front and centre. In particular, Danny Sullivan, one of the leading search engine analysts, has been extremely vocal about how Google’s new initiative had made its results less relevant.

Meanwhile, John Battelle has a thought-provoking blog post on how Google+ represents a conundrum for marketers and anyone interested in being found via Google search.

Given Google’s new bias for Google+, he suggests brands and people who care about search results will have no choice but to be on Google+ because their Web sites and blogs will rank below their Google+ profiles.

In many respects, Google has diluted the accuracy and relevance of its search results by placing the interests of Google+ above the interests of people seeking high-quality search results. That said, Google is a business as opposed to a public utility so it will clearly do things that serve its own interests without alienating its users in a significant way.

A Strategic Error?

Based on first impressions and the strong pushback from the Web community, Google has made a key strategic error in thrusting Google+ into the spotlight so aggressively.

As much as many people are die-hard Google search users, Search Plus Your World may given people news reasons to consider alternatives such as Bing, which has made solid market share inroads recently.

Blekko, Anyone?

At the same time, Google may have opened the doors to new rivals. Despite Google’s dominance, there have been a steady string of search startups who believe they have a better mousetrap. This includes well-financed startups such as Cuil, Powerset and Blekko.

The big problem has been while these startups may offer better results, Google users are so entrenched in their behaviour they can’t go through the aggravation of switching, let alone see whether a startup is a better experience.

But the launch of Search Plus Your World may provide search startups with a much-needed window of opportunity because it prompt even entrenched Google search users, including myself, to seriously consider and check out other options.

The reality of the digital world is there’s no such thing as guaranteed market dominance given other services are just a click away. This applies to Google, which has enjoyed a long and easy reign as search’s top dog.

If a new search engine captures the imagination of people, including influencers and mavens, it wouldn’t be farfetched to suggest Google could lose some market share in a heartbeat.

For the past few years, search startups have been looking for a crack in Google’s armour. With the introduction of Search Plus Your World, Google may have given startups what they’ve been seeking.

More: Another interesting read is CNet’s Peter Yared’s post, which includes this strong assertion:

“As I’ve written in the past, Google well knows that its search results suck, and over the past few years, it has started to short-circuit those results by putting more and more direct “answers” at the top search pages. That, of course, makes the search results themselves less and less important.”

The Mysterious Growth of Google+

Ever since Google+ launched last June, one of the most fascinating elements has been trying to get a sense of its growth, potential for adoption, and how people are actually using it within a world dominated by Facebook and Twitter.

What makes this social spectator sport difficult to understand is how different metrics are being applied.

In some respects, it makes Google+, the cricket of social media because you can see activity but you’re not quite sure what the rules are.

A good example is the buzz (pun, completely intended) about an Experian Hitwise report that suggests Google+ attracted 49 million U.S. visitors in December – a development glowingly described by Mashable as “massive”.

Meanwhile, Paul Allen, an analyst and the founder of Ancestry.com, told the Daily Mail recently that Google+ now has more than 62 million members. Allen also bullishly expects Google+ to have 400 million users by year-end.

It certainly sounds impressive until you head over to Compete.com, which reports Google+ had 14.3 million unique U.S. visitors as of late-November – a number that had grown less than 10% since late-September.

People Really, Really Want Google+ to Succeed

To be honest, it’s a bit of a head scratcher about who to believe. From the outside looking in, it seems like people really, really want Google+ to be mega-successful so it can become a viable and sizable rival to Facebook.

By trumpeting Google+’s growth, it could make individuals and brands think that maybe it’s time to climb on board given the train is beginning to gain momentum. After all, no one wants to be seen as being late to a social media party.

On the other hand, it’s challenging to grasp Google+’s apparent growing popularity given it doesn’t come up much in conversations with brands looking to establish or enhance their social media foothold.

From my personal experience, the digital and Web savvy are using Google+ or, at least, have signed up for the service. I’ve also heard anecdotally Google+ has become popular with photographers because it displays photos beautifully. Otherwise, Google+ doesn’t seem to have really resonated, at least not enough to think it will rival Facebook any time soon.

At this point, it is difficult to know what to believe. Is Google+ really becoming the greatest social thing since sliced bread, or is the excitement about Google+’s growth exaggerated or over-hyped?

Any insight into Google+ – good, bad or indifferent would be great. For those of you who have embraced Google+, what makes it so compelling, and how has it affected how your use of other social media services?

 

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Google+ Pages

As discussed in a prior post , the social media tug of war between Google and Facebook is now officially an arms race.

Google+ has worked hard to establish a social media foothold and, in the process, take some marketshare from Mark Zuckerberg & co., despite the polarizing affects of Google+.

With more than 40 million users, Google+ is now a digital arena with the potential to become another valuable resource for brands to find their audiences. Similar to Facebook, Google+ Pages is a free service that will provide brands with another place to establish a strong digital foothold and establish stronger relationships with consumers.

Truthfully, the similarities between Google+ Pages and a Facebook Fan Page are eerily present. That said, there are some benefits that separate Google+ from Facebook Pages, and should appeal to both sets of users (brands and users). These include a thorough search element, a new SEO tactic by utilizing the “+1”, and much more focused demographics due to their “circles” feature. These are distinct differentiators.

The detractors already have their claws sharpened, pointing to security issues and lack of administrative ease as negatives. Right now, the competition for the hearts, minds and focus of brands is being won by Facebook. But does this has much to do with Facebook’s familiarity as opposed to the above mentioned disadvantages?

Facebook’s familiarity and strong brand is definitely a part of it but you can’t deny that Facebook executes their Facebook Pages remarkably well. The newsfeed, ads and tab features, which essentially create a website within the Facebook margins, make for an engaging communication experience for brands and fans. And from sneak-peeks, Facebook Pages are going to become a lot more Website-like in the near future. Google+ also lacks in comparison to Facebook when it comes to engagement features such as contests and polls.

With social media there is always the reticence to never be “the first in the pool”. This can explain the trepidation we are seeing with Google+ and Google+ Pages. But as we have learned, what is in second place today can easily pull ahead tomorrow. The torch can be reluctantly passed in the blink of an eye.

The challenge for Google+ is making itself more relevant and valuable to brands, particularly given brands have to determine much time, energy and money they will invest to having a social media presence. For Facebook, the launch of Google+ Pages means it needs to continue to innovate and force Google+ to continue to play catch up.

Will Google+ Pages Drive Google+ Adoption?

Google+ has attracted more than 40 million users since its launch a few months ago but, in some respects, the jury is still out about whether can establish itself as a tier-one social media service.

For the new features that Google+ has unveiled, Facebook has countered with similar features. Competition is always a good thing but the challenge facing Google is getting enough traction that it can move beyond the early-adopter and the curious to become an entrenched part of the social media landscape.

In this context, it will be interesting to see the impact of the launch of Google+ Pages yesterday. Like Facebook Pages, which are poised to go through a major overhaul that will make them look more like Web sites, Google+ Pages give companies another social presence they can use to deliver content, drive engagement and build relationships.

Easy to create, Google+ Pages give companies another way to integrate themselves even deeper within the Google ecosystem. At the same, it will provide companies with a vehicle to marry social media and search, which is a good thing given the growing emergence of social signals in search.

Not surprisingly, Google+ Pages received mixed reviews. Slate, for example, contends that Google+ Pages won’t save Google+ because Google+ is attracting enough traffic to make the service valuable or interesting. On the other hand, ClickZ suggests there are lots of reasons to care about Google+ Pages.

Regardless of where you stand on Google+ Pages, Google had little choice but to launch them given the popularity of Facebook Pages. As important, Google is counting on the growing appetite by companies to enhance and expand their social footprints to drive Google+ Pages and, in turn, give consumers more reasons to embrace Google+ Pages.

So what do you think? Can Google+ Pages jump-start Google+’s growth and adoption by companies and consumers?

More some tips on what to do before getting a Google+ Page, IT Business offers up five things you need to know.

Is YouTube the Most Important Social Media Service?

Here’s the thing about social media: it fueled by innovation and creativity while being layered with many elements of human nature.

Over the past five years, our lives have been significantly changed by social media but there is heated debate over which services have been the most influential in our lives.

I would suggest the social media service with the most impact is YouTube. It can even be argued that YouTube is one of the greatest innovations in the modern era. Social media services come and go – Friendster, Bebo and MySpace – but there will most likely never be a substitute for YouTube.

Granted, you have to acknowledge the popularity of other social media networks when discussing the success of YouTube given they have allowed YouTube videos to be easily embedded. Even on its own, YouTube was worth the $1.6 billion that Google paid for it, and has seen very few speed bumps during its rise.

If is a knock against YouTube and its success, it has been the use of illegal content to attract in users. This might be accurate but it is a small part of its success, if not a mere footnote.

YouTube has been difficult to monetize but it seems to be overcoming that hurdle as well given in-stream advertising among other ventures coming into play. In fact, at this point in time the future is incredibly bright for YouTube when you consider people spend about one billion minutes on YouTube each day collectively.

Smartphones have only helped YouTube as they all come with video cameras and the ability to upload content instantaneously. This has turned just about everyone into amateur auteurs, while filling the coffers of YouTube.

Some would argue Facebook is the predominant social media serviced while others would suggest Twitter but from my perspective YouTube rules the social media universe, and with apologies to Vimeo, there isn’t a strong competitor in sight. At least, for now.