Google+: Become the Business Brand

Pete Cashmore on Google+

It was inevitable that businesses quickly took the social media opportunities generated by Google+ when it was released. Within a couple of days business had attached their name and motto to a Google+ profile and tried their hardest to gain traffic and influence. Google didn’t like it and they started to suspend business named profiles (more info here).

This was for two reasons:

  1. A Google profile is aimed for individuals
  2. Google+ will have specially designed business pages (rumored to be released next month)

Having been on Facebook since 2007 I’ve seen the network generate from being purely a human business to instead a corporate matter. The amount of money which gets pushed into Facebook Pages by organisations and agencies is astounding. Google+ may be heading in the same corporate direction.

Google+ currently doesn’t feature any business page options but yet something else is happening, something more effective. CEOs of companies are becoming their own corporate brands, engaging with contacts on a human level. Depending on the actual layout of a Google+ business page this comes with huge benefits.

Google+ users all have circles, different categories in which they can organise their contacts and control the messages which are sent out. This acts as a basic but effective PR medium, companies can control precisely which messages are communicated to each stakeholder.

If I was a clothing brand, much like my friend’s Entirety Clothing, then you could create Google+ circles for males and females to target the appropriate clothing offers. Basic but effective. Google+ circles allows you to communicate purely with stakeholders who are relevant. This is unlike Twitter which is developed to simply shout a message and hope that the relevant people will pick it up.

If Google+ business pages use circles for contacts then great. If not then I recommend CEOs continue to be the brand for their company. The world is full of brands but nothing beats communicating with the geniuses behind the logo.

 

Once Google+ releases their business pages I will revisit my opinion in this post.

Google’s Plan for Google+ [OPINION]

The new social network on the scene, Google+, marks a significant shift with how people communicate across the internet, engage with services and communicate with businesses. Let me explain why…

Google has been attempting to penetrate the social networking scene for the last couple of years. Unfortunately past attempts have failed but now Google+ is making progress. Yet this is not just an attempt by Google to overthrow established networks like Facebook or Twitter. Instead Google+ is designed to socially connect all of Google’s services, much like how Microsoft’s Windows Live services are integrated.

Over the years Google has made a number of notably acquirements; AppJet in 2004, YouTube in 2009, Picnik in 2010 and this year SageTV HTPC software. Look into each of these articles and soon the jigsaw becomes constructed. Google’s acquirements have created some of the biggest names of Google user services; Google Books, Google Documents, Blogger, Picasa, YouTube, Google TV.

Since 2009 Google Profiles lay dormant but it is in my belief Google knew their plan all along. So that their services survive they must be integrated. Why? Because there is no such thing as a fragmented web.

We all love homogenous services, Facebook is the example of this. Yes, it is one social networking but has the option for image galleries, video galleries, blogging/notes (albeit basic but used), email services, etc. Google currently provides completely separate services, the only similiarity is the same Google user login details.

Yet no matter how separate all of Google’s services are they also have a social element. Just look at YouTube, arguably a social network in its own right but any content posted by Google users is absolutely hidden from other services such as Picasa or Google profiles.

Google+ will not only merge all of Google’s products together but also their social elements. This leads me to believe that Google+ is a direct threat to Facebook but could potentially change the way in which we all consume content over the internet.

It is in my belief that the 18 million+ of us who have already signed up to Google+ are using a very different service to how Google+ will behave and appear in the near future. For the moment Google+’s user base is only set to grow but the real question is how long will it be before Google goes ahead with the next step of their plus plan? I think within the next 6 months.

What some agencies find difficult: Digital Marketing

Transitioning to manage a digital campaign is a task many of us “dyed in the wool” marketers do not appreciate – it is difficult. In London you would be hard pushed to find an agency who has never run any online activity but that doesn’t necessarily mean that all the individuals who work at that agency understand digital branding, online promotion (Public Relations, Social Media & Advertising).

In terms of Microsoft it is common to find clients that decide to run promotional activity across Display Advertising, Network Advertising, Xbox and Mobile. This is the public face of Microsoft advertising. Yet an agency needs to be taught about digital promotional activity in each area, each platform is completely different (but a single campaign can cross between them all in a fluid way).

This is not just exclusive to Microsoft but any publisher who has to work with agencies. There is no such thing as a universal platform offering – social networks, advertising, editorial and digital branding are all completely different.

There are certainly key areas where a number of agencies have found difficult in the past with concerns to digital online activity:
Measuring Campaign Metrics
If you are to offer an online campaign then you must in turn have the platform which can successfully measure online activity. The metrics are variable depending on the platform. Frequently agencies fail to understand just exactly:

  • What can be measure
  • What should be measured
  • How to measure the success of a particular metric (eg, eCPM)

 

Formats (Video & Image)
Understanding the files which physically make up the contents of a website is difficult when an agency has typically come from a “real world media” background. The sort of image formats you see in magazines would not work on the internet. The video which constructs a television advert is different from a YouTube masterpiece. Creative agencies are usually the culprits by spending too much agency budget using materials which are not relevant for online consumption.

Tip: Inspect the image types generally used on the internet. Look at the size of the files, type and how they are being used.

Social Media (Primarily the concept of sharing)
Even my grandparents know about Twitter because it is constantly being written about in newspapers. Yet whilst some agencies are aware of these networks, may even have an account with them, they do not understand the concept of using a social network as part of a larger campaign. Primarily the concept of sharing. Two key questions agencies must ask themselves:

  • Why would a user want to share this video/image/url?
  • What are we doing to take ownership of a social media presence linked to a publisher?

Compliance
Every publisher has their own acceptance policies. If a publisher owns/has deals with websites and other digital platforms then these companies will expect only suitable content to be featured on their sites. Yet I suppose this isn’t limited to digital marketing, this happens with traditional media too…

Have you had similar experiences in the world of work?

 

These are not Microsoft’s views but my own. Chill.

Guest Post – How to leverage Social Media to find your next job

During the last 10 years recruitment has changed at an incredible pace. Headhunter and recruitment agencies have been disrupted by a new wave of online platforms and social networks. The key challenge is connection employers with candidates, and in the last few years employers have wised up to the fact that they don’t need to pay a recruiter £5k to find great candidates and job seekers have realised that new avenues have opened up to connect with potential employers and that a nicely varnished online profile can help you land your dream job.

Here are 5 social media tips, which will help you in the job hunting process:

1. Register yourself on Linkedin and upload your CV – Linkedin is the largest professional social network on the planet and if you’re not on it, you’re missing out. It’s a great platform for exchanging business ideas, flirting with potential employers and connect with old and existing colleagues. Optimize your profile with these tips: i) recommend and ask for recommendations from your friends and ex-colleagues ii) Add your written work such as guest blogs, academic coursework etc.(from the navigation bar > More > My Applications), iii) Add events you have participated in or you are going to (you will find many of them in your city) and, ultimately, join work related Association and Groups v) Leverage your second degree connections – you’ll be amazed how many relevant people your friends and other connections can introduce you to.

2. Use social job search engines like Adzuna or Branch Out to look for marketing jobs and  other fields ones. These tools allow you to quickly and easily identify friends in your network who work at companies that are hiring. Having connections and “lines in” to relevant employers can help you a) Understand what it’s like to work at the company b) Give you an advocate at the company – A quiet word in the bosses ear can go a long way!

3. Open a dedicated Twitter account and be interesting. Recently Saatchi & Saatchi launched a graduate recruitment campaign based on the number of followers and retweets a candidate could generate. Follow professionals and recruiters in your field, they have sometimes a dedicated Twitter account with job ads (example: @jobsLDNIT for jobs in IT in London). If you want to use Twitter to see job ads you may be interested in using the hashtags #jobs combined to a city (example: #london)

4. Connect your Twitter account with Linkedin ( More > My Applications ) and use both of them to boost your popularity. Start to think about the short list of companies you’d like to work for and follow all areas of social media. Engage with their employees and relevant people that could be interested in your skills and you as an individual.

5. Be careful what you publish online about yourself. Do a big cleanup of your personal internet history and change Facebook privacy setting. Most employers will type your details into Google to get a deeper insight into you. Make sure there’s no nastiness they can discover!

Student Bloggers: Prepare for a marathon, not a sprint

“Prepare for a marathon, not a sprint” – @behindthespin

Guess what, @behindthespin (aka Richard) is absolutely correct. Student bloggers should be aware that starting a blog is part of a longer game.

Some myths about student blogging:

  1. You will receive instant attention / online fame
  2. It will only provide a positive and rewarding experience
  3. Blogging is easy

 

Let’s not be pessimistic about blogging though. I have found myself:

  1. Being mentioned in University lectures around the country
  2. Keeping in contact with talented students online
  3. Blogging enhancing my online profile (branding)

Let me indulge each point:

You will receive instant attention / online fame
It was thanks to @behindthespin that I started a business related blog after he spotted  an earlier blog of mine called ‘A Superfluous Ramble’. In reality I have been blogging for 6 years and have learnt a lot in the process. Yet this business related blog was started in 2009. In this time I have written 267 posts, at an average of 500 words each (conservative in my view) then I have typed 133,500 words (clearly out shadowing a measly 10,000 words dissertation). Whilst I have gained a niche audience of attention it is nowhere near the heights of others in the blogosphere.

It will only provide a positive and rewarding experience
Everyone likes receive positive comments but as with dispelling any opinion in public be prepared for negative comments (most are rarely constructive). On a couple of occasions I have been tempted to give up blogging completely after nasty spells of continuous ‘trolling’. Grow a thick skin, the internet is home to all sorts of creatures – some unpleasant ones may pay your comment box, email address or social networks a visit.

Blogging is easy
If you take blogging seriously then it must be frequent – go one step further and plan posts in advance. Blogging for me was born out of my love for writing and it is this passion which keeps this piece of internet real-estate going. Yet this is a marathon and writing an effective blog will increase your need to take notice of current events, read books, read magazines and generally take an interest in the world around you. The challenge every blogger faces is creating quality content (which my cousin @jonwhite123) highlighted on Google+ recently. Are you in for the challenge?

 

Yet blogging has personally provided me with rewarding experiences:

 

Being mentioned in University lectures around the country
Early 2010 I had a student email me saying that their lecturer had mentioned me in class, this shocked me. Never had I imagined that my online efforts would be used as an example in PR lectures around the country. For this I consider myself lucky. Yet take notice of the students in my next point as they deserve attention too.

Keeping in contact with talented students online
Clearly I am not the only student PR blogger, take notice of; @JessicaNorthPR, @LeahEserPR and @claresiobhan. These students all maintain blogs and regularly tweet. PR degrees are spawning many talented digital PR students and all of them are examples in their own right. Spot our different methods and run a comparison – we are all unique and should all be mentioned.

Blogging Enhancing my business profile (branding)
It is an old trick to brand yourself online in order to gain attention. The best example of this being done has to be fellow Microsoft Intern @MrLeeWilliams who has used his creative talents to make an impact online. Keeping a blog has the added advantage of providing juicy keywords to search engines, having a URL to place over the internet and pushing your CV forward (Yes, I put the address of my blog on my CV).

 

If you are a student considering starting a blog then do it! You can search my blog for advice, ask a question in the comment boxes below or contact me directly. More than happy to advise.

 

Safely Out of London: 2011 Riots

Source: Reuters

As of writing this I have safely arrived home from London. Microsoft security kept all employees up-to-date of the London riot situation and eventually many decided to leave and work remotely (one of the beauties of working for the world’s BEST software company!). The atmosphere in London is twofold; of panic and solidarity. Somewhat oxymoronic, ironically caused by morons who choose to loot and pillage their own communities.

Last night Ken Livingstone voiced his opinions on BBC News insinuating that rioting amongst the younger generation was due to the economically tough times. Personally I find it rather disgusting how Red Ken decided to take a situation caused by greed and sheer violence as a political point. Yes, generation Y do have it particularly bad but these gangs were never looking for a job – they feed from those who do. The London riots do not seem political, instead gangs have discovered that through joint communication it is possible to cause havoc in designated areas.

Blackberry Messaging is being blamed to be the telecommunications choice for looters. This afternoon the official Blackberry blog was hacked by infamous group TeaMp0isoN_. Yet blaming particular social mediums is not the point. Text messaging could easily be just as valid. Both communications forms could be traced (it is simple) but unlikely.

TeaMp0isoN's Message to BlackBerry_

Panic has swept London and the police will be out in full force tonight. Not only is the police presence necessary to maintain order but it is also a PR drive. Politicians decided that sipping their wine abroad and waiting for the violence to shift was harming their reputation. The Met need to prove that their force have what it takes to keep London under control.

This is only a quickly written blog post by a student who happens to share one aspect with rioters, age. Let’s not tarnish the whole of generation Y over the London riots. Many of us are very different. When I watch the news I feel betrayed – clearly there are many in our society who do not recognise ethics.

In my opinion this video sums up the whole of the London riots. Warning: it will make you angry.

Stay safe.

What I have learnt after 6 years of Blogging

I’m 21 years old yet I have been blogging in various forms over the last 6 years. Before 2005 I had no idea how blogging would have shaped my life. Now 6 years on I reminisce on what I have learnt and if I would have changed anything.

Comments are Gold and Dust
It is much easier to forget positive feedback than the negative. Negative comments build like dust and unless you brush them away it is easy to let them blind your path. Treasure your positive comments and either forget or grow from the negative. Either way comments are good, it shows you are making a difference.

Your learning will speed up – LOTS!
Once I started blogging alongside my PR course at University I realised writing posts was acting as a form of revision. Every student should be aware of the world around them and blogging accelerates that process.

Be Brief
Most of us scan read when browsing the internet. Dwell times are reduced and so it is necessary for blogs to be brief. Sometimes people on Twitter will RT a post just based on the title! Shorter posts generally are more successful, in my experience the larger ones are more entertaining to write.

Old Posts are always Cringe worthy
To this very day I cannot stand reviewing old blog posts. Somewhere on my computer I have a list of posts which I wrote in 2006 and I am glad to say I have progressed a lot since then. The latest post is always one to keep in mind but be careful what you write, the posts you wrote six years ago may still be Google-able. (Nothing is truly deleted on the internet)

Your Audience is two-way
Don’t think that blogging will provide you international fame. Equally don’t think that an audience will just flock to you. Building an audience takes time (this blog’s audience is certainly niche) and requires you to make the effort to interact with other blogs. Even being listed effectively in search engines requires a lot of work. Perhaps in the next year I will become more popular than Darren Rowse?

Blogging won’t make you Rich
We have all heard the stories of people who manage to blog full-time and make a living from it but they really are exceptions. Through sponsored posts and advertising over the course of the year I have probably earned enough money to purchase a Nintendo 3DS. Compare that with the amount of time it takes to keep the blog running; it wouldn’t be worth it.

Publish Frequently
To maintain an active blog it is important to publish frequently. Quantity keeps search engines happy and causes people to regularly visit for more information. Don’t forget quality though – miss that and you won’t be doing your reputation any favours.