google Archives - Harris Social Media

Big brands offer small businesses Google Plus opportunity

on Jul 19 in google, hints and tips, social media, trends posted by

Uh, oh. It looks like big brands are not 100% behind Google Plus.

According to a couple of recent surveys, top 20 online retailers in the UK and the US have a lackluster presence on Google Plus. Some of the big brands post rarely or not at all. Other brands post a lot, but have very low levels of user interaction.

According to the numbers, 19 of the top 20 UK online retailers had Google Plus pages but only 13 posted content on a regular basis,” and “US retailers are even less bothered about Google Plus than their UK counterparts, with just 12 of the top 20 US online retailers updating their pages on anything like a regular basis.”

So how should smaller brands respond? Should you abandon Google Plus if big brands won’t put their faith in the channel? If you’re not on Google Plus already, should you just stick to a cookiecutter Facebook and Twitter strategy? I think not.

Instead of assuming that big brands know best, recall that most of them are slow adopters. Most people reading this were probably on Facebook and Twitter before big brands jumped on the bandwagon. So it will be with Google Plus. But that’s beside the point. The lack of big brand engagement signals an opportunity for smaller businesses to develop an audience while the big brands play catch up later on.

Being an early adopter gives you the advantage of providing value and connecting with your audience without being drowned out by the blaring firehouse of big brand messaging. In fact, now is the time to put more effort into Google Plus: optimizing your profile, curating quality content and having meaning conversations. And that’s what social media is about, right?

Google’s brilliant ploy to get people to pay for testing Google Glass

on Mar 29 in advertising, branding, business, geolocation, google, marketing, products, strategy, technology, trends posted by

Google’s co-founder, Sergey Brin models the company’s new augmented reality device, Google Glass.As a technophile and early adopter, I am as excited as anyone else by the prospect of trying Google Glass, the new augmented reality device coming from Google in the coming months. Augmented reality apps have been around awhile. You point your smart phone at something and by mashing up geolocation and image recognition the app supplies additional information about what you are looking at.

Augmented reality is a powerful idea, and one that is taking root, most prominently with Google Glass. Google have been tremendously successful in generating hype about the product, which allows users to interact with their surroundings and the Internet with unprecedented ease and intimacy. But the new device is also a big gamble for the technology giant.

The system requires a seamless integration of hardware and software, and we don’t know yet if Google has it right, despite awesome promo videos and gigs of hype. Existing augmented reality apps are still buggy, and limited to large cities where the appropriate infrastructure can support an acceptable user experience.

The company has invested a great deal in their brainchild, and Google Glass is coming. It’s a bold and innovative move for a company that is mostly focused on software. Indeed, just as clever as the device is their testing and marketing strategy.

It seems to me that Google is applying a software testing model to their new hardware. Allow me to explain. When we buy a car or washing machine, or a smartphone for that matter, we expect all the pre-market testing to have been done. The glitches should be ironed out and we expect to receive a good product for our money. Companies invest hugely in testing products to ensure as few expensive recalls as possible.

However, with software, we have become conditioned to accept a post-market testing model. Users do much of the testing after a product is on the market and then happily report bugs, many of which could probably have been picked up in pre-release testing. With an operating system or app, we routinely and unquestioningly download the latest update, assuming it is a necessary and worthy improvement to something we have already paid for.

Google now seems to be bringing the software testing model to the Google Glass hardware. Here’s how they did it. With their initial announcement of its release, the company announced the Google Explorer program. Prospective users had to apply by posting a message on Google Plus or Twitter consisting of fifty words or less, accompanied by the hashtag #ifihadglass. If their application was accepted, the lucky applicant had to pay $1,500 to receive the device.

That is, Google has very cleverly found a way to build a cadre of testers and have them pay for the privilege privilege of being among the first among the public to use the gadget.

What is more, these users are early adopters, and most likely influencers, who are undoubtedly going to feel considerable loyalty to the company, to forgive initial problems, and to become evangelistic brand ambassadors. So Google neatly solved two problems — how to test the product in the market place while minimizing testing costs, and at the same time generate buzz among technology mavens and enthusiasts. Well played Google, well played.

But things did not go as smoothly as expected. Just a few days ago, the technology press was reporting that Google was retracting some invitations. According to reports, Google tweeted: “We’re gonna need to disqualify a few non-compliant #ifihadglass applications that snuck through.” Oops. The retractions certainly bolster the idea that Google is using buyers to pay for testing, rather than magnanimously sharing their new technology with the deserving few, as they would prefer us to believe.

Oops, didn’t anyone notice that Microsoft’s new logo copies Google’s brand pages logo?

on Aug 30 in advertising, branding, business, google posted by

Microsoft’s new logo (bottom) bears a striking resemblance to Googles brand pages icon… (top)Microsoft rolled out a new logo to great fanfare last week. Bully for them. It’s about time. I’m not a big fan of the software giant, but I do grant that their products have made computing more affordable and accessible since the home computing revolution took off in the 1990s.

But their marketing sucks! I won’t roll out the old tropes of Microsoft versus Apple. Apple did that perfectly in a stellar ad campaign, and Microsoft have never quite managed to hit back. 

So maybe the new logo was planned to address Microsoft’s still flabby image. Only, only… It does’t quite do that. Aside from other critiques, well-articulated, what I noticed was a striking similarity between the new logo, and one that’s been used on Google’s brand pages for some time now. Here’s the two side-by-side. What do you think? They are rather similar, aren’t they? Yet again, Microsoft is trying to reimagine itself in the face of stiff competition. And failing miserably. C’mon Microsoft, can’t you do better?

Yahoo is ending its ad publisher program

on Mar 31 in business, google posted by

Yahoo! is dropping its Adsense-like website ad publishing program.Today Yahoo! announced that they are ending their ad publishing program. (Read the email sent to users.)

Their system is similar to Google’s Adsense. Website owners embed code in their site’s web pages. Then ads are served according to the page content.

But Yahoo!’s program, launched in 2005 never got out of beta. Perhaps they felt they were just playing catch up to Google. In any case the competition was too intense, particularly as multitudes of other companies offered revenue opportunities via ad placement through affiliate programs.

I hadn’t invested a lot of time or effort putting Yahoo! ads on my web properties, so I’m an example of Yahoo!’s exact problem — too few website owners used their program. But I imagine some owners did put a lot of time and effort into supporting Yahoo!’s ad system.

To soften the blow Yahoo! is partnering with ad publisher Chitika. This should allow users to wean themselves off Yahoo! without too much pain. Even so, Yahoo! is sure to lose significant loyalty over this move.

Winner of TwitterThoughts’ Early Adopter Award!

on Nov 12 in google posted by

Woo hoo! Steve Joyce wins our Early Adopter Award for being the first to join TwitterThoughts Google Friend Connect. Okay, so it’s a bit tongue in cheek, but seriously, thank you Steve! Steve is CEO of EldercareABC, an organization dedicated to building an online community for caregivers of aging parents.

10 great sites to look for a job in social media

on Nov 11 in google, hints and tips, links, News, social media posted by

Social media is one of the hot spots for job seekers in an otherwise lackluster employment market. There are a lot of resources out there, but they’re scattered and of varying quality. Soooo… I created a new page for TwitterThoughts: Social Media Jobs.

Visit the page to get a list 10 of the best (IMO) websites for you to concentrate your job search. And if you’re new to this particular job market, the page provides some links to articles that describe the key qualities you need to get hired.

There’s also a news feed for you to keep up to date on developments in social media jobs and careers.

If you know of additional resources, please let me know and I’ll add them to the page.

A paradigm shift in search: Google meets Twitter

on Oct 23 in google, panconsciousness, social media, technology, trends, Twitter posted by

There’s been a lot of buzz recently about deals between Twitter and big name search companies including Google and Microsoft. So what’s the deal? Why are the big boys so interested in small fry Twitter?

Real-time search. That’s why.

A recent article in Wired by Clive Thompson discusses the difference between Google and the real-time Web. Google, writes Thompson, “organizes the Web by who has authority” which is based on links whereas the real-time Web does the opposite and “generates a massive number of links and posting within minutes.”

Google is still the 800 pouind gorilla, but the point Thompson makes is that the real-time Web offers a whole new way of organizing information online — a paradigm shift away from Google’s methods.

I have blogged before about how microblogging represents what I have termed panconciousness.  The real-time Web is the concrete manifestion of that mass consciousness, and microblogging is its voice. As Thompson notes, “trending topics” on Twitter give an immediate insight into that consciousness and what it’s preoccupied with at any given moment.

Enough of the philosophy already! What does this mean for SEO and marketers and indeed, the whole industry built around it, best practices, key words, etc.? I see at least three key issues:

User behavior — How do users create and share information around real-time topics. What drives some to blog, while others are content to retweet, or just read? We are going to have to learn how users act and respond to the real-time Web, and to results from searching it. We’ll need to understand how that behavior differs from responses to Google search results.

Spam — I’ve blogged about how Twitter’s Trending Topics are open to abuse, and Twitter’s recent efforts to curb spammers did little to address this issue. How will real-time search filter out the spam and prioritize content based on value? (Thompson mentions several approaches to doing this, but there’s no consensus yet.)

Consolidation — How are the established search engines (=collective memory + authority) going to combine their functionality with that of the real-time Web (= collective consciousness + immediacy)? Google News is a hint of what’s to come, but it’s got a long way to go to match what we see on Trending Topics.

So is it just a matter of Google and Bing including tweets in their search results as the recent deals have announced? But this won’t be enough. My guess is we will soon see a mash of Google and Twitter Trending Topics. Or something like it. Gooter? Twiggle?

Questions about the CIA monitoring social media buzz

on Oct 20 in facebook, google, linkedin, monitoring, search, social media, technology, Twitter posted by

Advertising Age today reported on government investment in online social media monitoring tools. This enables the CIA, among other government agencies, to listen to your conversations on your favorite social media channels: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and so on.

Some questions arise:

  • First, will the CIA really find any actionable intelligence? And even if they do, will they know how to respond?
  • Second, what kinds of privacy issues are at stake? While anything on the public timeline seems fair game, what about direct messaging, which is supposed to be private? (To my mind, searching DMs is equivalent to tapping a phone line.) It seems to me that a prospective terrorist would not be dumb enough to post anything incriminating on the public timeline. That said, a couple of high profile incidents emerged recently where crooks were nabbed as a result of carelessness using Facebook. (e.g., Thief logs into Facebook at scene of crime) But this kind of thing is small beans for the CIA (maybe not the FBI).
  • Third, given the kinds of uncertainties, is this an approriate use of taxpayer money? Do these services offer much more than what could be achieved configuring searches on Google? It seems a fair bet to me that the CIA could monitor enough innocuous data on social media that they may be able to pick up encrypted or disguised messages. In that case, such expenditures would be appropriate. But if they’re just on a fishing expedition, on the chance something might turn up, perhaps a more strategic approach would be warranted.

I wonder if this like a company deciding, oh let’s get into social media because everyone else is, and then falling flat on their face.

Ten steps to evolving your personal brand

on Oct 18 in blogging, branding, facebook, google, hints and tips, linkedin, reputation management, social networks, strategy, tools, Twitter posted by

Anyone who has an online presence needs to understand the importance of personal brand. The person on Facebook who got fired because she posted on her profile that she hated her job did not get the concept of personal brand.

But there are many social media channels. Most people have several profiles, which they maintain to a greater or lesser extent. What is the point of perfecting your LinkedIn profile if you inadvertently sabotage it with a lackluster blog or indiscrete Tweets? The solution is to evolve your personal brand.

By evolving your brand, you start from simple principles and create an increasingly complex presence. Before you start on any of this, you must understand the process of biological evolution. Broadly speaking, it is a process of experimentation, ruthless selection, survival and propagation of what is successful. Here are 10 steps to implement as you evolve your personal brand.

1. Establish goals –– Decide what you want to do with your personal brand. First and foremost brand is about perception. Your basic goal is to craft perception of what people think. What do people find when they search for you on Google? Do you want to be seen as an expert, thought leader or influencer?

2. Consider your audience — Who are you communicating with via social media? If your personal brand is your professional persona, what kinds of topics interest your audience the most? Find the common ground with the topics you are knowledgeable about. By sharing your unique knowledge you provide value to your target audience. It’s vital also to consider the kinds of online behavior typical for your audience. Does your audience create and upload content, will they comment on blog posts, or are they content to passively consume content? (Charlene Li’s “ladder” model of social media participation is a good starting point to classifying user behavior.)

3. Research platforms — If you want to use Facebook just for family and friends, it might be unwise to “friend” work colleagues as did the unfortunate Facebook user in the example above. If your professional network is mainly on LinkedIn, tweak your profile and engage on Answers and Discussions. Bear in mind your audience might not be active on the platforms on which you’re active. For instance, in regulated industries (e.g., pharma) you’re unlikely to have a large audience in social networks. Do some research to find out where your peers are. In choosing platforms consider whether it gets traffic (one reason Facebook is the 800 pound gorilla), relevance, the value of content and if you are comfortable using it.

4. Create a strategy — Once you have identified where your audience is active online, and what kinds of topics you want to engage in, create a social media strategy. A common mistake starting out is to assume strategy is simply engaging your audience. It is not. Think of strategy as similar to a business plan. Your strategy needs to include long- and short-term goals, evaluation of the competitive landscape, resources you plan on using, success benchmarks, a tactical summary and a schedule for executing tactics. Be sure to try something new and unexpected. Mutations are the raw material for evolution. You have to have unusual approaches to survive in a competitive and changing environment.

5. Implement your strategy — The schedule in your strategic plan will guide your day-to-day activities: for example,  what to blog or tweet about, how many posts or tweets, what kinds of content and what kind of integration (such as cross-linking with your other online presences on LinkedIn, blog comments, forum posts and so on). A common mistake for beginners is to start their social media branding at this stage, rather than including implementation as part of a strategic plan.

6. Measure your results — Your strategic plan’s benchmarks will include metrics for you to assess your progress. There are endless different ways to measure social media. If you are advertising, a good start is the IAB’s Social Media Ad Metrics Definitions. If you have a WordPress blog, use a plugin that provides a good overview of basic stats. For more detailed stats, Google Analytics are a must. You can set behavioral goals such as a conversion or clicking on a link to directly measure the impact of specific site content. If you are on Facebook or Twitter, these applications provide a variety of stats. On Facebook, the Fan page provides information on the number of views, fans, uploads and so on. Several third party sites provide stats to allow you to track your progress on Twitter, such as the number of followers, posts, and URLs clicked. There are endless permutations. Again, you need to experiment and see what works for you. (Introduction to social media metrics)

7. Compare your results with your goals — Selection is a key step in evolving your personal brand. In order to begin the selection process you, see if your results are meeting your goals. When you compare your results with your goals, it will help to refine your goals and to get more specific. Say your goal is to be the top blogger in your industry. How will you measure whether you are the top blogger? You could use your Technorati rank or Compete.com traffic. Or may be you just want to be a better blogger. You could use the change in number of comments over time, so traffic or rank would be less important. The key is to focus on what is most important relative to your goal.

8. Continue what is working — Once you have the first seven steps, the rest is easy. Simply keep up with what works. Do more of what gets positive results, whether it’s more traffic, more comments, or whatever.

9. Quit what is not working — Do less of what doesn’t work. This is selection — arguably the most important step of the evolutionary process. Selection is ruthless. You need to be too. You might have to give up something that’s precious or important. The dinosaurs were awesome animals. They’re all dead. Extinct. For ever. You need to think along those lines. What’s not working? What is diminishing your survivability? If it’s not working, kill it.

10. Start all over — Yup. Evolution is iterative. Just like the environment, the online ecosystem is always changing. Life’s evolution is always ongoing, and always will be. To survive and thrive in the online ecosystem, you too will need to continually evolve. Start from Step 1 above and continue the process as long as you want to stay in the race.

Does it work? Sure. If you stick to your plan and persist, your personal brand will evolve and you will get results. Here’s a screen shot of my stats on this blog since have focused on evolving my personal brand. It isn’t the only measure of success, but it illustrates that you can evolve your personal brand applying the above ten steps.

Is Facebook the Microsoft of social media?

on Oct 10 in facebook, google, social networks, trends posted by

Facebook is really the friend I love to hate! A report in Techcrunch Friday describes how the social networking giant is helping Orkut users move their profiles into Facebook.

Given that Google-owned Orkut has about a hundredth the size of Facebook’s traffic, you might wonder why Facebook is bothering. According to TC, Facebook is promoting its profile-transfer tool in the US in a move to consolidate its virtual monopoly.

Such heavy-handed maneuvering is reminiscent of another technology giant, Microsoft. (I have blogged before about the similarity between Facebook and Microsoft). Their fights with Google (who called Microsoft “evil”) are part of Internet history that continues to unfold. Will Facebook’s move provoke Google to open another chapter in that book? Give me a ringside seat!