Why You Should Be Testing Aggressively
If you haven’t gotten an invitation to try Google Plus, get one. I’ll send you one if needed firstname.lastname@example.org. A few days ago I was underwhelmed with the service, largely because it was so young and relatively clunky looking on my iPhone. After some major testing and research over the past few days, I’ve changed my tune because of great articles by Chris Brogan and Scott Monty.
Circles-Delineate Your Social Graph
The biggest news for me about Google Plus is their idea of “Circles.” Whereas on Facebook you’re sending the same message to your mom, spouse and friends from high school, Circles lets you categorize people. Right now it’s pretty simple and there are four – friends, acquaintances, family and ‘following’ (defined by Google as “People you don’t know personally, but whose posts you find interesting”).
We’re at the point in social media where we’ve (thankfully) gone beyond just thinking about volume for volume’s sake. Instead of only thinking about how many people we reach, we think about the value of the community we create and curate. This is a bit turning point for any medium, and I for one am REALLY glad we’re here. This is of special importance to our clients. Beyond trying to discover the monetary value of a Facebook Like, (which is important in terms of where a brand can best spend its marketing/ad dollars) we focus on helping clients build the most relevant communities as possible. For instance, if you run a contest and offer something free or use the word “coupon” in a post or on Twitter, you’ll invariably get hundreds if not thousands of people to come to your Facebook page. You can “Like Gate” them to make sure they up your community numbers, but it’s vital to always think in terms of your core consumer and existing members. Tailor a contest to appeal to your target demographic and post questions frequently to dig in and make sure newcomers to your sites/communities will bring value to existing members and can stay on-topic for the conversations you’re trying to curate.
Getting to Know Google
Beyond the shift with Circles, people will now start to get to know the other products Google has to offer that haven’t gotten as much attention as search, docs and Gmail. One of these is Google Latitude, that lets you “see where friends are right now.” If you’re doing a group chat with your “Friends” Circle you may want to know where a certain person is located to see if you can get together in person right away or in the near future. Another offering is Google Checkout. If someone in your stream (feed of content from a Circle) talks about a certain product you can find it easily on Google and then use Checkout to use one account to make purchases online.
Resources and Tips
Below are some excellent articles and resources I’ve put together as a way to expedite your needs around Google Plus. Please feel free to email me (addy above) with other thoughts and tips, or add me on Plus and we’ll do the Circle thing.
Here’s a major tip—right now, the conversation on Plus focuses about 80% on Plus. This is an AWESOME time to be a part of this rapidly growing platform as many major influencers (Chris Brogan, Scott Monty plus hundreds of others including Mark Zuckerberg) are actively testing Plus to kick its digital tires. This is a rare opportunity to contact and speak with (versus spam) such thought leaders and to read how they are using Plus to bring value to their communities and grow their brands.
How to Measure Google Social Analytics
If you aren’t already following Christopher S. Penn, you should. I’ve known him ever since he and Chris Brogan (along with an amazing team of other influencers) ran the first Podcamp that defined why I wanted to get into new/social media. He is great at explaining deep technical terms in easy-to-understand language. His How to Measure Google Social Analytics will show you what I mean. A key thing to remember for any new tool is the focus on how you can measure its efficacy with hard data. Chris covers everything from the importance of using a good URL shortener to dovetailing Plus with your existing work in Google Analytics.
In terms of shorteners, make sure to read Mashable’s article on How To Get Your Google Plus Vanity URL. Any time you can get your name/brand name as part of a URL, you should. It’s an essential part of how people first experience you/your brand in the digital arena.
Privacy with Plus
It’s a temptation with any new platform to broadcast messages to see who will react without thinking about the digital permanence of your messages. It’s the equivalent of being a kid and getting to the top of a mountain and yelling, “Echo!” but using an inappropriate phrase and not realizing your mom can hear everything you say. Kristin Burnham’s article from Network World, Five Privacy Settings You Should Know is a great read to implement the policies or preferences you want to start NOW before Plus becomes a full-blown institution. Here’s a sample of one of her tips:
How to Disable Google+ Email Notifications
From the gear icon in the top right of your Google+ page, choose “Google+ Settings,” then click the Google+ tab on the left side of your screen. This page shows you which emails you’re currently receiving.
By default, Google+ will send you an email for essentially every action others take that affects you. Uncheck the boxes next to the notifications you no longer want to receive.