November 2, 2011

Here’s why it make sense to use Google Plus

Google+ launched prematurely — so take advantage

Chris AbrahamThere is unnecessary unrest that has been buffeting the launch of Google’s newest online social network, Google Plus, and the reason for that is simple: Google was forced to launch G+ because Twitter blocked Google’s real-time and direct access to Twitter updates. This is now becoming old news but it explains everything. This is why Google+ didn’t have a brand page similar to Facebook Pages, built-in upon launch, resulting in either a transparent and compliant real name membership or deletion, with the exception of Ford Motor Company and a few others that are the only brands that are in a testing phase, the sort of testing that happens in limited and private beta.

What has been happening even before the real names scandal is the scandal that any and all Google Plus profiles that were not simply real users with real names were deleted en masse. Most of the very early adopters who did not read the explicit terms of service (ToS) took the opportunity to not only create a G+ account for themselves but also set up Google Plus profiles for their brands and companies as well.

Within a day of being allowed in via viral invite or connections, there were thousands of connected, fleshed-out and promoted ad hoc corporate and nonprofit brand pages popping up everywhere.

This is a pretty common behavior in any new system as the tech-savvy flood in and test boundaries and limitations even if they have read the ToS closely. The truly unique and impressive (or tyrannical) response was in Google enforcement, which was immediate, insidious, terrifying and often sloppy when it came to brands. Brands were deleted that were, in fact, true names run by true people, often celebrities.

I remember adding Vin Diesel to my circles. He was removed, though I never discovered if real Vin or brand Vin or fake Vin fell under Google’s sword. Another was Captain Kirk (William Shatner), who was deleted but who really was who he said he was.

I won’t get political here and talk about whether it is OK or not to demand and enforce real names or if anonymity for safety’s sake is what should be allowed — except to say that if you’re not savvy enough to effectively fool Google, then you’re not savvy enough to escape detection and maintain the integrity of your privacy and anonymity. So you need to make sure any privacy and anonymity processes you adopt needs to be foolproof. If not, you’re really deceiving yourself as to how protected you are behind your nom de guerre if someone really wants to identify or harm you. OK, enough of that.

Why did Google give birth to a preemie?

The meat of this article is why Google would give birth to a preemie when there really was no reason to release until everything was perfect. Well, there surely was an intense flame under Google’s seat that made them roll something out that was bound to be more trouble than it was worth, and that’s the real-time web.

Until Google Plus, there was only one true source for real-time news and real-time trends: Twitter. While Facebook speaks about its Social Graph and is privy to real-time trend data, only Twitter shares with the world by default. A microblog instead of an online social network. By default, Facebook profiles tend to be walled gardens, sharing only with explicitly-approved-of friends. Facebook Pages are much more open and search engine optimized, but still suffer from being very proprietary and more difficult to directly hitch onto in the same unfettered way that Twitter has been known for — until now.

Back on July 3, Twitter cut Google off. The details are murky (and if you do know details, please help me out in the comments), but before that happened, Google was able to build an entire new product: real-time search results. If I searched for “Chris Abraham“ or “chrisabraham,” I would see a short, scrolling, section towards the top of the search results that would cycle through my latest tweets as well as tweets that were related, such as mentions of me or retweets.

This real-time search that tapped Twitter’s real-time web become one of most exciting and interesting Google killer apps–something that Yahoo! and Bing couldn’t match, matched only by Twitter’s own Real-time web results also amplified the value of Google’s old reliable Google Alerts service, allowing it to become one of the most valuable early-warning reputation management tools in marketing — and all for free, at least $600 less than professional social media monitoring dashboards such as Radian6, Sysomos and Visible Intelligence.

When Google’s full-pipe access to Twitter was mysteriously cut, for whatever reason, Google scrambled, attempting to keep up appearances by turning up its sensitivity to secondary sources like Friendfeed and Tweetmeme as well as its focus on blogs and other sources that receive nearly immediate updates, but nothing was able to surf the real-time Web the same way that Twitter does, globally, in one normalized and consistent XML feed.

The results were that after the direct access to real-time tweets was cut off, the latency between a tweet and when Google was able to reflect that plummeted. Compared to the world pre-Twitter, it was nearly real-time; however, it was more akin to the free stock market numbers that you can get on Google and Yahoo! Finance: there was often a 10-minute time delay–way too long to be the best, way too long to appeal to journalists, activists and businessmen to use Google as an integrated news portal instead of where you go after you see what’s going on on Twitter, where the true pulse is.

If Google can activate every single Gmail user on Google+, then Google will have over 220 million new users and sources of real-time updates for their real time search product

Google Plus was launched prematurely as an emergency heart transplant to save a patient that had lost his pulse because it wasn’t in possession of its own heart — it was reliant and dependent on Twitter to maintain the pulse.

Google+ was a very smart idea, but it only makes sense in its half-assed Tonka Toy sort of state when you consider the above. If Google can activate every single Gmail user on Google+, then Google will have over 220 million new users and sources of real-time updates for their real time search product, matching or bettering the number of users that Twitter has. If they make it happen — and they’re being very aggressive with their methods since they pretty much just give an account to anyone with a Gmail account.

Plus, for anyone that really cares about being part of search, anyone who cares even a little bit about Google’s search hegemony, there’s another benefit to participating in Google+:  search priority, search timeliness and search relevance. There’s a good chance that the best way to show up first on Google search is to invest your brand and your time force-feeding all your content and trends to Google products such as Plus and YouTube.

Why it make sense to use Google Plus: Reach

That’s the reason why I go out of my way to make sure I cross post to Google Plus in addition to Facebook and Twitter. I want my content to remain relevant and essential when it comes to Google’s serendipity engine. When it comes to my blog, Because the Medium is the Message, 80% of all of my traffic comes from Google and other search.

I wonder what’s going on with Twitter and why Google was cut off, but this obviously made Google not just nervous but quite irrational and more willing to play the “beta test on paying customers” game that Microsoft is well-known for. While I believe that maybe Google is post-beta and post-labs, there is no branded indication that Google+ is more than a work in progress on its way to a fully formed being.

It surely is not fully formed. It’s a chalked suit that’s in the middle of being tailored, but is far from finished. Google+ was deployed too soon to really be able to invest in down the long-tail. Luckily, Google+ is still very much the home of the technorati, the technical elite. While Google+ likes to portray itself as being modular and flexible, it is really a hodgepodge mess that is far from being intuitive.

What’s worse is that none of my iPhone, iPad, and Blackberry apps, such as FourSquare, Hipstamatic, Selective Tweets, or any of my normal cross-posting tools have yet to integrate Google Plus, so I can’t, as far as I know, add a hashtag to my SMS tweets to 40404 that cross-posts to Google Plus the same way I can do to Facebook with a #fb.

When will Google Plus Brand Pages arrive?

All in all, today, a quarter of a year after Google+ was prematurely born, there are very few solutions for sharing, cross-posting and auto-posting that don’t include grabbing code snippets, hacking JavaScript, and dancing with Chrome 3rd party ad-hoc solutions that nobody short of a coder would be able to sort out.

So, Google Plus assures us that Google+ Brand pages will be awesome, be better than Facebook and meet all our needs as social media marketers. However, Google has been reporting that Brand pages will go public “later this year” and this is later this year, at least in relationship to the July 2011 announcement. We’ll see how late in the year Google Plus Brand Pages will come to fruition; however, if I am right about the rush-opening based on panic and desperate need, then it will be closer to the tail end of the year than any time in the Fall.

That said, I spend an extra hour a day making sure everything I share and say on Facebook and Twitter is shared to Google+ as well. Why? Well, if everybody’s bailing on Google+ already, then there will be relatively little competition for the “real-time web” search results on Google. I assume that since anything I tweeted showed up immediately before the break in Google Search that everything I “Plus” will be immediately indexed and show up in real time web, real time Google search as well–as long as I always remember to select “Public” every time I post things.

So, while it might be a half-assed product with a lot of promise but very little cohesion or continuity, it is also all that Google’s got right now, so they’ll be leaning very heavily on anything and everything that is being openly and publicly shared on your wall. So it is stupid and short-sighted to roll your eyes, turn your back, give Plus that hand, and go away until Brand Pages go public.

Take the extra time, become an expert in the space, work on your Google Plus celebrity, and enjoy the added prestige you’ll enjoy as a direct reward for your taking the risk and investing in this new platform — and Google Search cannot deny that it’s nepotistic and favors and rewards early-adopters and devotees, so make sure you spend a little time becoming OG+ (Original Google+) and you might discover that you’ve discovered a secret weapon in your messaging, marketing, publicity and organic SEO campaign.

But don’t you dare try to create a Google Plus account in anything but your very own true name, because Google seems to have a hair trigger when it comes to summarily executing any members who it doesn’t deem absolutely authentic.Chris Abraham is a partner in Contact Chris via email, follow him on Twitter and Google Plus or leave a comment below.

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6 thoughts on “Here’s why it make sense to use Google Plus

  1. Smart analysis.

    I left Google+ at the beginning of their sloppy and tyrannical handling of real people's identity and haven't gotten back yet. I had been a real fanboy, but Google's reckless disregard for identity left me with a really bad impression.

    Anyway, about Twitter cutting Google off — maybe it was because Twitter ended up doing the iOS 5 integration deal with Apple?

  2. Hi Chris,__The article is a bit too long for my taste and it talks about too many (related) different things.__I would rather have 3 or 4 different posts.__Google+ was launched on June 28th. Twitter feed was cut by July 1st. Did Google get an advanced notice that this was about to happen? Otherwise I don't know if your theory is correct or if Twitter cut the access after Google launched G+.__My theory is that Google launched the half-baked (at best) product because they needed to slow down Facebook. Facebook was growing too fast and if they would have waited until the end of the year Facebook would have hit a billion and everyone would be using timeline (the only reason why Timeline is not live yet, it's because Facebook is now aware than the customers have an extra option other than rant and rave and create 100 protest groups).__They just couldn't afford to keep waiting. They needed to let the world that a competitor to Facebook was in the making. I do not discount that Twitter live-news is important too and that's why Google targetted both networks,__Why does it make sense to use Google+? Join in, The benefits are much higher than the costs of not joining.

    • I thought I send a reply to this from my iPhone but it isn't here. Thanks so much for the insight, Alex — I didn't know that. I guess the best thing about being a blogger is that this gets to be a conversation and I value your input — and your input about iOS 5 as well, Peter.

      Yes, I get dinged about my Proustian rambles — and most of the time my editors can easily separate the parts out and even serialize it for me — however, this time it came out as rambly as I am and why, amongst other things, I have yet to get a book out.

      Thanks so much, guys.

      PS: The benefits ARE not high to join but the benefits ARE high if you are habituated to Facebook (and less so, Twitter) and none of your friends spend time on G+ — the benefits are HUGE when you realize that posting PUBLICLY on G+ might be THE killer Organic SEO app going right now.

  3. Hi Chris I learned quite a few things from this post & you confirmed some of the things my Lisa Ann logic was telling me. In particular my thinking tells me if Google is the first place most people go when they're looking to find someone who offers the services I do then it makes sense to be on Google+ . Driving down the road to my next speaking engagement I had an epiphany – I bet I can keyword optimize my Google+ about profile – Yes I can & I did. I'm stumbling through Google+ but I'm hoping to become an OG+ :-).