The unlikely plot of Google+

This post was originally written by Tommy Walkerand reprinted in its entirety from socialmediatoday.com. Tommy is an Online Marketing Strategist and been doing various forms of internet marketing since 2005. His final calling came from being fired over a pair of pants.

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So by now, you’ve likely heard Google+ is coming to an internet near you.You may have taken a look at the demo, or gotten an early invitation, you might think this could usher in the next generation of social networking.

And you might be right.

I’ll admit, I’m anxious to see if Google’s actually gotten it right this time.

Google will be the first to introduce us to Web 3.0

The next generation of social networking is about to happen, no doubt about it.

Signs of Web 3.0 are clear, if you know what to look for.

Sites like Neflix and Pandora use your existing preferences to suggest new movies and music tailored to you. Facebook uses your likes and interests to target ads.

Web 3.o’s core concept is that all of your data is collected and used to deliver results tailored to you.

Tell Sparks what you’re into and it will send you stuff it thinks you’ll like, so when you’re free, there’s always something cool to watch, read, or share.

Sounds cool right, never be bored because you’ll always have something interesting coming your way…

Here’s why my money is on Facebook.

Facebook is a predator.

In 7 years Facebook has adopted many of the web’s most social technologies, has become largest information sharing hub, and with

the “like” button and open graph protocol worked it’s way into the backbone of the internet.

Every feature Google+ touts, Facebook has likely been developing for much longer than we realize.

They’re just waiting for the right moment to pounce.

Google+ Features and how Facebook will do it better.

Google+ descriptions by Mashable , then look at some of the things Facebook has been doing.

Then you decide who’s going to do it better in the long run.

Google+ Sparks:


What Mashable says:

To spur sharing, Google has added a recommendation engine for finding interesting content. The feature, Google+ Sparks, is a collection of articles, videos, photos and other content grouped by interest. For example, the “Movies” spark will have a listing of recent and relevant content for that topic.

The system is algorithmic — it relies on information from other Google products (e.g. Google Search) as well as what is being shared via Google+ and through +1 buttons.

The problem: Just because I like independent movies doesn’t mean I’m into every single independent movie known to man. Sparks is really Google Alerts set up in a dashboard that gives more weight to data that’s gotten a +1 and been retweeted.

But+1 is still too new. Google added it to every search result to get more “+1″s on content, but that’s like sending out a mass mailer, and why would you “+1” something you haven’t read? Using ReTweets (or even my friends ReTweets) as a signal is also not useful. Just because my friend ReTweeted a link does not mean I’m going to be interested in it.

How Facebook will do it better:

Facebook has been integrated with Bing in some way for over two years. Facebook also knows what you “like” on its platform and on various websites throughout the web.

By combining Bing’s search algorithm with an exhaustive collection of “likes” from over 750 million users, data won’t just ranked algorithmically-  it will have a real human element.

Facebook and Bing together will create the first truly relevant “social search” engine.  Your profile data will be cross-referenced with the “like” data with other people’s Facebook profiles. As strangers with similar interests to you “like” content across the web, Bing’s algorithm will use that “like” as a signal that will be interested in that content as well. The more interests you have in common, the stronger the signal.

Google+ Circles:

What Mashable says:

Circles is well-implemented. It’s far easier than creating a Twitter List or a Facebook Friend List. The drag-and-drop functionality is a welcome addition, and the cute animations that appear when you perform actions give the product personality. That doesn’t necessarily mean users will take the time to create friend groups.

The problem: Exactly what Mashable says, even though it’s cute doesn’t mean it’s going to make people want to make yet another group. From what it looks like, much of the Google+ experience hinges on Circles+, and while they’re giving incentive with cute animations, if people don’t go through the process of organizing their contacts again, the entire Google+ experience could fall flat on it’s face.

How Facebook will do it better:

Facebook already has its existing groups and lists feature. By using some smart automation they could be a million times better.

All it would take for Facebook to make groups compelling is to match you and your friends  similar interests, and automatically create groups for the different categories of interests you have in common.

For example: How many people on your friends list have you lost touch with, but you know you’re into a lot of the same movies?

Imagine Facebook did the hard work of creating a group and inviting people on your friends list with similar movie interests. Would you find yourself connecting with people you haven’t talked to in a while and having stimulating conversations about something you love again?

Groups could be categorized by movies, television shows, musical interests, marital status, has children (and age of children) etc. Facebook is equipped for functionality like this with the introduction of broad category targeting on the ad platform.

Using the technology that delivers instant advertising, it would also be possible to create your update and just before you press enter Facebook  recommends which group to post to, taking the pain out of navigating different groups just to say something interesting.

Google+ Huddle:

What Mashable says:

Huddle is basically a group-texting feature for the Circles you create. It makes sense as a product, but it isn’t terribly exciting. I’m going to stick with GroupMe for now.

The problem: Mashable said it right, it isn’t horribly exciting. That group chat for a social network being mobile is kind of neat, without additional features… I’m not sure it would be enough to encourage people to jump ship from their current group chat platform.

How Facebook will do it better:

A few months back Facebook acquired group messaging platform Beluga and it’s talent, which happen to be 3 Ex-Googlers.

Beluga was described byMG Siegler of Techcrunch as ” a simple, elegant, and fast group messaging service… that works across several different platforms: iPhone, Android, mobile web, regular web, and text message…It’s almost as if Beluga is like Facebook Messages plus Groups.”

Notable features of the Beluga App

  • Pods (groups of friends you specify) you share with are totally private.
  • Everyone in a Pod can watch your updates.
  • Control alert settings capability for any specific pod.
  • Share photos and location on a map with your pods
  • Ability of inviting your contacts either from your email or mobile device
  • Add friends to a pod at any moment to instantly loop them into the conversation
  • The application is not tied to specific device, you can access pods from anywhere using any mobile device or computer with a web browser.

Imagine your Movies Group arranges a movie night.

On the night of the event, the host “checks in” through Facebook Places and members who have Rsvp’d are notified and can get directions from their current location. While on route, the host would send trivia questions from their computer, and the first to answer with their mobile device would win a prize.

Google+ Instant Uploads

What Mashable Says:

Instant photo uploads is a cool idea, but we worry about auto-uploading all of our photos for privacy reasons. We can see some users not being happy about auto-uploads, even if the albums they’re uploaded to are private. This could potentially create a lot of “garbage.”

The problem: Aside from the “garbage” and privacy concerns, auto-uploading could eat into my phone’s data plan. If you shoot a lot of photos with your phone, you could inadvertently end up spending more on your data plan than you intended.

As an example here’s what AT&T’s data plans look like:

I hope Google+ does not keep this as an “always on” feature.

(Update: No worries here, instant upload only works when you’re connected to WiFi, and it’s actually a pretty cool feature)

How Facebook will do it better:

Simply put, they won’t do anything.

If they do, they would speed the existing process up by allowing mobile users to upload photos with fewer “clicks”

Google+ Hangouts

What Mashable says:

Hangouts is one of the more innovative concepts of Google+, and we think it’s a cool approach to getting users to accept group video chat. The camera switching feature (it changes who’s on camera based on who’s talking) is far superior to having multiple video feeds open at the same time. That said, it will require users checking their Google+ streams every day for potential chats to join. If Google+ gains traction, Hangouts will be a killer feature.

The problem is: Not really any problems here actually. This feature is easily the coolest feature of Google+. Just because it’s cool doesn’t mean everyone will love it though, there are still plenty who refuse to use a picture of their face as an avatar, but overall that will likely not hurt the adoption rate of this feature.

How Facebook will do it better:

 Facebook has been integrated with Skype since October 2010, and it keeps getting better. If you’re a Skype user, you can access Facebook directly through the software.

This primarily allows you to place calls to friends cellphones from the News Feed and chat with other Skype users. You can  as “like” and comment on friends status updates, chat via instant messager, and sync friends phone numbers to your contacts list without having to go to their profile.

Buying Skype is out of the question for Facebook, as Microsoft bought it for 8.5 billion dollars in May 2011. But it’s also no secret that Facebook and Microsoft consider Google a common enemy. Is it likely Microsoft bought Skype to hold on to until Facebook goes public?

Even if that’s not the case, with the introduction of a potential game changer like Google+ Hangouts, it’s feasible Microsoft would let Facebook fully integrate Skype into it’s back end. Meaning, you’d be making voice and video calls directly from Facebook.com.

Using Skype’s Screenshare function you could do a virtual screening of a movie with your Movie group, and using Skype’s Group Chat you’d could see how your friends react and chat about the movie.

Make no mistake about it, Facebook is a predator.

And they’re still a private company. With Facebook likely to go public no later than April 2012, that gives Google+ enough time to gain just enough traction to be lured into a false sense of security.

On the day Facebook goes public, when the closing bell sounds tears through the noise of brokers and shareholders cheering loudly, and news pundits reporting the record high day, know that the ringing in your ears marks the end of an era.

When the ringing subsides, you’ll see and hear everything with unparalleled fidelity, and you’ll wonder “what’s next?”

Do you think Facebook will continue to lead the way for social networking and have a massive impact on society?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Posted in In The News | 1 Comment

Giving your Facebook page a much needed Tune-Up

A large percentage of what we do on the social media teams for our campuses is manage the wall content as well as reviewing our page analytics, and checking out the latest, greatest Apps. But if Facebook were a racecar it would be wise for us to go in for a tune-up every so often. With that in mind, here are 10 points you can use to tune-up.

1. Review you privacy settings to ensure maximum exposure (Edit page > Page settings)  Unlike a personal page where you want to limit exposure, the permission settings on your business page should be set in such a way as to maximize your exposure.

2. Make sure you have more than one page administrator Although this is taken care of for you it is always good to review your campus level Admins to make sure they are still active and effective.

3. Set your email notifications (Edit page > Your settings)  Facebook gives you the option of receiving email notifications when people post or comment on your page. This allows you to easily monitor activity and respond to comments and posts in a timely manner.

4. Manage permissions (Edit page > Manage permissions)  Permission settings are very self-explanatory.

5. Facebook plugins This is, again, taken care of for you on all of our .com and .edu pages. However, it is always good to make note of those and encourage the use of those.

6. Review your Wall and profile image Do they attract attention? Are they memorable and recognizable? Are they easy to read? Does the wall image use all the available space – 540 pixels high and 180 pixels wide? This blog post from Tina Cook has some great examples that may inspire you.

7. Review your More Info page Is the More Info page complete and easy to read? Is it up to date? Does it include phone numbers, websites, addresses and the like?

8. Manage your Featured Likes (Edit page > Featured)  Your Liked pages appear on the left hand side of your WallUp to five pages are shown at a time. Although the five featured Likes are presented in random order each time the page is refreshed, you can select which pages are included in the mix by designating them as a featured Like. This is a great way to highlight other pages you administer or pages from your clients or partners.

9. Review your photostrip The order of these images can’t be fixed and images are reordered each time the page loads. But administrators have the ability to hide photos appearing in the strip by clicking the hide this photo box when hovering over a picture.

10. Delete any dead apps It is important to keep the content on your apps up-to-date. Even the most famous brands sometimes have “dead” apps that are either empty or have old, stale content. An app with information that has not been updated in months can leave a poor impression of your brand, so make sure you delete any unused apps.

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Inspired by 11-Point Facebook Checkup by David Corr for socialmediatoday

Posted in How To | 26 Comments

And….IT’S GOOD!

Now is the time we start really putting into practice the relationship between PR and Social Media. How, you ask? (and this will help considerably in planning out your overall monthly strategies)

Research Using methods such as SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) as well as secondary and primary research on what others have done.
Planning  
Goal Large overarching vision for your communication

Example: To raise the number of people getting secondary education. 

P  People, the most important part of your purpose

Example: High-school Juniors and Seniors 

O Objectives, measureable, or SMART Objectives

Example: Raise the number of high school juniors and seniors applying for college by 20% over two years in the pilot schools. 

S Strategies, the general approach you plan to take

Example: Education and support to overcome obstacles and objections to college or other secondary programs 

T  Tactics, the channels and other things you will do

Example: Use Facebook, texting and in-person mentoring 

Implementation Should include timeline, budget and allocate the people and other resources to each task
Evaluation This is the measurement portion of the plan and it should match with the Objectives

What do you think? Does it make sense? Is it achievable? Is it a viable way to go beyond just status updates about the weather all the time?

As we continue to march forward more and more emphasis will be put on social media and more and more results will be expected. I bring this information to you asking you to read it, think about it, talk back to me about it.

Let me hear from you. I know there are some incredibly bright ideas just waiting to be launched and they are coming from you! So, let’s start today – June 1 – working smarter to use the tools right before us.

You in?

 

PS – Forward this along to the members of your social media teams. We can all talk about it!

 

Posted in Must Read articles | 1 Comment