Why you should pay attention to Google+

Over on LinkedIn, Des Walsh asks about the value of Google+ for small businesses. A few people there note LinkedIn’s great business value. I find I’m using it less and less. LinkedIn has turned into a networking free-for-all with people connecting to anyone at all. I keep only people I know, for real, in person, in my network. It also helps me be sure that if someone I value asks for an introduction, I actually know both sides and can make a true introduction, not just a pass-along.
Then there’s Facebook. People question the value of a ‘friend network’ for business. But, Who better to recommend you business than real friends – which is where Facebook excels. I saw this post from Anthony Kirlew today on “How Small Business Owners Miss the Mark with Facebook” and it resonates for me in the direction of Google+. Both of these networks need to bring in the concept of closeness, reputation and trust before they’re going to truly see their value.

So, what is Google+, and why should you pay attention? It is  a social network, with circles of your contacts at the center. You can make a circle of work folks and “huddle” with them in a shared mobile text messaging type environment. You can “hang out” with your friends via a video and audio chat room. You can see news you care about via sparks (which needs a lot of work to get to the value of Google Reader). And there’s photo sharing, integrated from Picasssa. So, a lot of the same stuff as Facebook and Twitter.
Google+ can take a giant leap ahead if they take the circles concept and add some trust and reputation characteristics. For those not yet using Google+, the concept of circles is simple – you put people into circles like “Friends” and “Family” and you can filter what you see based on the circles. You can also filter what you share, so your friends see the fun night out pictures, while your family is unaware of them.
Of course, Facebook and Twitter already have Friend lists and Lists, respectively, but neither is very good. Twitter gives no tools to help manage the contacts you already have to put them into lists, and Facebook has tried to hide the lists I spent time making to make their interface “cleaner.” What they’ve done is make it harder for me to keep up with specific groups of people. I’m hoping Google+’s circles will force Facebook’s friend lists back to the front page where they can be effectively used.
Google may be “late to the party” with G+ but they are clearly working to learn from LinkedIn and Facebook and innovate on their own mistakes with Buzz.
Finally, there’s the “take over the world” strategy for Google+. I thought a lot about this when
I wrote about Google Wave in Mashable last year, but Mashable never published a chart I created. The chart was about Wave, so I’ll re-do it below.

Function In Google+ Now? Google Related Property
Picture Upload and editing Upload Picassa
Advanced Editing Limited Google Docs, Blogger
Collaborative Editing No Google Docs, Google Shared Spaces
Voice Chat Hangout Google Voice, Gtalk
Scheduling Collaboration No Google Calendar
Contacts Yes Related to your Google Address Book
Friend/Colleague Discovery Currently Difficult but they are working on it Gtalk, Gmail Contacts
NewsFeed Discovery Difficult to search, but easier to filter via circles Google search, new Google Social Search,
Video Sharing Embeds via YouTube YouTube
Content Sharing No, but just needs a simple bookmarklet or browser extension Predict this will happen very shortly, plus APIs to integrate with ShareThis/AddThis will happen quickly too
Mobile Access Android App, Apple App coming, HTML 5 interface available now Google Mobile Ads
MobileCheckins/Deals Checkins Show in Google+ Now, and the Android client shows “Nearby” activity already Google Local, Google mobile ads, Google social ads, Google Offers

The fact that they can bring in Google Offers (local deals) that connect to Google Places (location, check in and verified business listings), search and advertising (including mobile ads) and a “Nearby” function is in their network from the start, and you have a very powerful potential.

We’re telling them who we’re closest to, and according to some folks using Google+, they’re calculating interactions to see our actual nearness and interactions with each other. If they can figure out a way to keep user’s trust (which they lost with Buzz) better than Facebook (up there with used car salesman in the trust category) and let us discover and work with reputational information about each other (something LinkedIn could have done long ago), again, I see a lot of power.

I hope Google can realize the potential.

Bonus reading:

The Google Plus 50 by Chris Brogan

This is Just the Beginning by Paul Adams

Google’s Six Front War

Sex Problems at Google Plus (he means gender problems but sex sells, right?)


What makes things go Viral?

Earlier in the year, I was a panelist, along with Steve Rubel, senior VP of Insights for Edelman Digital, Peter Himler, founder of Flatiron Communications, Les Blatt, former editor/producer for ABC News, and Ken Zamkow of http://www.liveu.tv/, for the panel “Going Viral in a Social Marketing World.”

CUNY released the panel as a podcast, and you can listen to it on the page referenced above.

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Help Us Find the Wisdom of Twitter: #TwitWiz

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

At the upcoming 140 Characters Conference being thrown by Jeff Pulver, Dean Landsman and I will give a talk called “The Wisdom of Twitter.” We both have some good ideas about “How Twitter Can be Helpful in Increasing Our Wisdom” or “What Twitter Has Taught Us.” We also know a bit about “What are the Wisest Ways to Use Twitter,” but we’d love learn more about these subjects from the experts – you.

We intend to curate this talk, and take much of the wisdom from you, the crowd. So, please help us learn about the best ways to use twitter to gain wisdom and knowledge, and please help us by sharing the things you’ve learned by using Twitter – 140 characters  at a time.

Please send them to @HowardGr or @Deanland and tag them with #TwitWiz so we can find them more easily. We’ll credit everyone who shares something of value.

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Twitter can Get You Business – My latest post on Inc.com

“Yes, people get business via Twitter. At a recent event in New York (organized via Twitter by PR guru @PeterHimler), I met Lisa Cruz (@LisaRedShoesPR), Co-Founder of Red Shoes PR , a 5 person startup agency in Northeastern Wisconsin. It was created about a year ago as an integrated shop helping clients with both traditional PR and Social Media services. Lisa told me that while many folks are still questioning the way to obtain business on Twitter, her shop had just signed a client who found and actively sought them out because of their activity on Twitter.”

Read more of: Twitter Can Get You Business

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New Media Masters Program in Britain – A Twitter Masters?

The title of this article, “Masters Degree in Twitter Studies” misrepresents the degree, as I read it.

Quick Takes: Master’s Degree in Twitter Studies – Inside Higher Ed

Birmingham City University, in Britain, is attracting attention and some skepticism with its announcement that it is starting a new master’s degree program in social media, with an emphasis on training people to work in marketing or consulting for those who want to better understand Twitter, Facebook and other popular online services.

From the programs’ site: “This MA programme will explore the techniques of social media, consider
the development and direction of social media as a creative industry,
and will contribute new research and knowledge to the field.”

It actually seems to be more like what I studied at the NYU ITP program, albiet the early-90s version with CD Roms and early web stuff. But the community discussions and the study of how people interact (online and off) still serves me today. Much of what I studied is still relevant. I hope Birmingham is thinking that way as wel.

Project Management helped by MicroBlogging

I met Chris Hall at the Social Media Jungle event at CES last month. He’s a very thoughtful person who is combining the best of what is working in Social Media with his passion and penchant as a project manager. In this piece, he discusses how using Twitter can actually contribute to the artifacts created in a meeting. These can be follow ups or captured thoughts.

Project Management and Micro Blogging – LouisvillePM

Engaged notes – One of the limits of Twitter is that you can only post in 140 character chunks. I have talked to people who feel this makes it cumbersome for any type of real time updating. I look at it a different way and believe that it makes me actually listen to an entire thought before I start typing away on my iPhone. If I don’t fully understand, I can clarify in the meeting itself and others’ points of view can be jotted down as well (see above). In my mind, its extremely valuable to be able to turn a complex idea into a sentence that people can understand. Micro blogging meeting minutes reinforces that concept.

I also like his concept of looking at the tweets of several people to see which elements of a discussion most people captured – those may be the most relevant points.

As a speaker, it’s tough to look out into an audience and see many of them with their heads facing down, looking at their devices. However, maybe we need to get past that feeeling of awkwardness and assume people are taking copious notes.

A useful list of Twitter tools

A very useful list of Twitter Tools for those who are trying to track and make sense of the “Twitter-verse.”

Twenty Six Twitter Tools To Track Tweets | e-Strategy Internet Marketing Blog

I’ve been finding so many Twitter tools and passing them along that it’s hard to keep track of them all. The Twitter tools I want to keep track of are those that monitor, measure, and analyze Twitterers and their traffic. I figured I’d compile them here for your benefit.

The article is quite good, but misses a few new ones that I’ve discovered. TweetVisor seems designed as a browser-based control panel for hard-core twitter users. The UI could use some work. TweetDeck is not browser-based, but is an Adobe Air-based application that really lets you see a dashboard of Twitter users, followers, replies, and searches.

PeopleBrowsr like the Passover song, Dayanu, (updated to link to the lyrics) lets you have a browser console with not only Twitter users, followers, replies and searches, but includes columns from Facebook, LinkedIn, Identi.ca, FriendFeed and a host of others. PeopleBrowsr is in Alpha, so there are some rough edges, but it is quite useful if you want to get lost in your network’s status for hours at a time. And then, the closed-beta, but much talked about CoTweet lets multiple people manage a twitter account with a well-thought out interface. It is definitely designed for companies who are trying to listen to customers and make sure people get responses.  As it is closed, that’s all I can share, but watch out for these guys. (They did give me a beta account, and let me know a little more than I can say at this time.)

TweetLater is useful (for me) in helping me manage followers. Their “vet followers” feature lets me see everyone who’s added me recently and decide if I will add them back. If I don’t check in, TweetLater can automatically add them after a certain period of time. This is helping me a lot to follow back and keep up-to-date.

So, that’s a quick roundup of Twitter in my world. Let me know what I’ve missed in the comments below.

Changing your Social Media Status isn’t a Marketing Tactic

I’ve written several times about the things that can happen when you change your Social Network status, or use a presence tool like Twitter to update your community.  (See: Facebook and Blogs for Non-profit Recruiting Business Development via Social Networks, and On Social Networks Give and you Shall Receive).
At a recent conference I ran into Jeremy Epstein who told me this story. He got an email from a potential business contact, but had no idea how he got Jeremy’s name. The client liked Jeremy’s blog posts about consumer privacy issues, so Jeremy engaged him and asked where this person found him. Continue reading