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Google+: The party where no one wants to be January 20, 2012

Posted by Lynn Christiansen Esquer in Marketing and PR.
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1 comment so far

Whatever social media site you favor most, you at one time heard about it from somewhere, got curious, joined it, learned its in and outs. Probably, if you found this blog via Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn, you ended up finding your social media of choice useful and/or enjoyable and decided to stay a while.

Social sites have worked because people have wanted to join the party and then stayed. They’ve found social to be cool and fun and full of interesting people posting interesting things.

But now it’s Google’s party, and it’s all very… different. Google’s the overbearing boss at the office holiday party. No one really wants to be there — everyone has places where they’d much rather be — but they can’t get out of the obligatory party and they can’t even leave early or there will be repercussions come Monday morning.

This week, we learned that now Google is forcing adoption of Google+ by automatically creating G+ accounts for people who sign up for Gmail, YouTube, or other Google products. If you think that sounds like the strong-armed tactics of early Google Buzz, you’re right. Chalk another one up for Google’s continuing ugly pattern of favoring dominion over choice.

Now, despite my own personal dissatisfaction with G+ (“Hello? Is this thing on?”), I’ve been recommending G+ business pages to my clients because of its SEO implications. Having to do this already feels forced and a bit icky, and there’s no joy in it. Social media junkie that I am, I have yet to meet more than a handful of people who favor G+ over other social networks. Most people seem to be annoyed that there’s yet another social network vying for time and attention, especially since it’s not, for most people, a very exciting place to be. Very few people I know seem happy to use it, or to use a +1 button. But: they’ll be joined on G+ anyway by millions of more people in the coming months who will have it forced upon them.

Google is changing the web, even though no one wants it to. Its tentacles are everywhere as it uses its position in the market to boost its numbers — by coercion. If you’re a marketer, Google’s tightening grip on both search and social is not something you can afford to ignore — but it doesn’t mean it’s going to be a good party.


Google+: It’s time to rethink your SEO and SM strategies November 15, 2011

Posted by Lynn Christiansen Esquer in Marketing and PR.
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1 comment so far

Last week, the business SEO landscape changed significantly: Google+ opened up its company pages to the public. All things being Google, this means that brands need to seriously consider incorporating a G+ page into their marketing strategy.

It’s a no-brainer that Google will use its ubiquity to ensure that G+ pages rank higher than Facebook or LinkedIn pages in Google search. Already we’ve seen that the +1 button has made a difference how searches are ranked. Links from G+ to webpages and blog posts will also continue to provide a higher search ranking. It makes sense that Google will continue to skew its algorithms to favor its own results.

And now try this one out. In your Google search bar, type in “+Pepsi”. You will be automatically land on Pepsi’s G+ page — even if you haven’t signed up for G+. How’s that for simple? Now imagine if it were that easy for people to land on your organization’s social media presence.

All signs point to G+ being on the path to having a powerful social media presence (even if, in my experience, virtual tumbleweeds have been blowing across my G+ feed since July). Its audience is currently made up of mostly business people and the tech savvy. Its circles and hangouts have a clear business use case, and can be used with Google’s other business products, such as Docs, Calendar and Blogspot. Clearly, Google is quickly becoming the go-to for business solutions.

Today, Google announced that it is going to be working with media management companies and tools to make it easier for organizations to manage their social media presence across multiple social networks. In other words, Google is poised to help you shift your business emphasis away from other social media networks to G+. And your decision to do so will be made easier as it continues to shift its SEO algorithms to favor your presence there as well.

Machiavellian? Maybe. Savvy? Absolutely. And definitely something a business marketer can’t afford to ignore.

The Google Buzz Backlash February 12, 2010

Posted by Lynn Christiansen Esquer in Marketing and PR.
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Google Buzz has been a topic of excitement this week for anyone interested in watching the line between social media and e-mail communications blur. But in the past day or so, as the novelty has evolved into practicality, a serious privacy matter has come to the forefront.

It annoyed me, the first time I logged into my rarely used Gmail account this week, that I was told I automatically have Buzz followers. For one thing, I didn’t sign up for Buzz; for another, the Gmail account I have is used exclusively for my job-hunting activities, which means that automatically, the recruiters and hiring managers I’ve been in contact with over the past few months are, suddenly and without my permission, my Buzz “friends.” Not a big deal, I thought, since I don’t plan, for the moment, to use Buzz to post my status updates or keep in touch with friends.

Wrong. It turns out it is a very big deal.

On Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites, users must sign up, create an account, and deliberately connect with others. I’ve not been the only one bothered by Google’s presumption that everyone I e-mail is a social networking friend, or that I even want to be linked to Buzz.

Many people have complained that they have too little control over who follows them and that its blocking controls are inadequate. Google’s auto-following and public listing can expose personal connections that some users would consider private; or as in my case, turn even the most casual e-mail contacts into Buzz “friends.” Most alarming is the concern that some have that even their addresses and contact information, courtesy of Google Earth and Google Maps, may now be available to anyone who has their e-mail address.

What does this mean for crime victims, journalists, government sources, whistleblowers, employees, attorneys? It’s not Big Brother that has your information now: EVERYONE has access to it.

Today, Google acknowledged the outcry over privacy complaints and made changes to the social networking tool. A Google spokesman naively said in a Google blog post that Buzz is still young and there are many improvements on the way.

Excuse me? Why on earth would Google prematurely throw the switch on Buzz when the tool actually poses a safety concern for some users in its current form? Having worked for Yahoo! once upon a time, I know Google has an army of attorneys that must have counseled its execs on liability and privacy matters. And common sense tells you that any program should be opt-in. Google: FAIL.

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