Have you earned your Google Plus (aka Google+) cred yet? If you’re not one of the Pluserati, chances are that you’re still coming up the Google+ learning curve or maybe sitting on the sidelines because the thoughts of building a presence on yet another social media platform seems too daunting. The reality is that if you’re a marketer or involved in technology or social media eventually you’re going to need to take the dive. Granted that Google+ is another Google product and Google hasn’t been very effective at social media beyond YouTube, but give it a test drive. As the old ad said, try it, you’ll like it!
To help you get your Google+ on, here’s a round up of the best resources to get you up to speed quickly and efficiently.
Google Plus: The facts, nothing but the facts
While there’s no doubt that Google+ is off to a running start, you may want to take a closer look at what’s behind the numbers.
- comScore weighs in on Google+’s growth with some details about who’s using the service.
- Experian Hitwise provides another perspective on Google+’s growth.
- Google+’s growth trajectory is included in this Gigaom piece explaining why Google screwed up on the topic of brand pages. This is important for brands, media entities and lawyers. (Several sources are all using the same information. Here’s the analyst behind the chart, Leon Haland.)
- How Google Plus Stacks Up Against Facebook. In this data-rich report by Jackie Cohen (no relation) on AllFacebook.com you’ll find hard numbers comparing Facebook and Google+.
Google Plus how-tos
These resources are the Google+ manuals. Dip into them to see which ones work best for your needs. Remember that Google+ is still in beta and this information continues to evolve.
- The Google+ Demo. Google put together a fun interactive map of the features of Google+. Mouse around and explore. There’s a lot to learn.
- The Google+ Project Home page. Tap into all of the content Google’s put together to explain Google+ including a video overview. Tabs on the project home page lead to detailed descriptions of the various features.
- Google+ discussion forum Stop by to pick up on the very latest Google+ news and info and follow the trends.
- The Google+ Help Center. This is the support page for all Google+ users. It’s reachable from a link on any Google+ page. Being Google, it’s search engine based.
- Google+ Tips & Tricks, a collaborative document. In true social media form, here’s the ultimate guide to Google+ created by over 120 people!
- Mashable. As the repository for everything social media, Mashable editors have been using Google+ and sharing their insights regularly. Here’s their comprehensive Google+ Guide. Even if you’ve got some Google+ experience under your belt, you may want to check this article to get a list of Mashable staff on Google+.
- How to get started with Google+. Social Media Examiner has a lengthly post to get you started.
- Google+ for Newbies. 40 tips from Travis Campbell that use screenshots to guide you.
- Google+ in 15 minutes a day Here’s a post that Getting Things Done’s author David Allen would love. SEOmoz shows readers how to prevent Google+ from being a time suck.
Who’s who of Google Plus
These are the folks who’ve risen to the top of the Google+ ranks. Don’t get discouraged since many of them had a head start by having strong followings on other platforms.
- The Google Pluserati. Alltop.com has gathered on one webpage the RSS feeds of several dozen influential bloggers who are active on Google+ including Danny Sullivan, Scott Monty, Ann Handley, Paul Allen and Matt Cutts, to name just a few.
- Facebook employees. If you can’t beat them, at least keep tabs on what they’re doing. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO, is one of the most followed people on Google+. Marketers, this is a great lesson in competitive intelligence. Get onto competitive platforms or buy competitive products to understand their customers.
- Andy Hertzfeld who has been working at Google since 2005 is the design lead on the project and the one to thank for the great-looking Google+ interface. You’ll likely recognize his name from his time spent at Apple (1979 – 1984) where he was a key designer for the original Macintosh software team. Read about the design effort in Steven Levy’s, Inside Google+ article on Wired.com.
Google Plus meets the spin cycle
Here are some articles from established media sources to share how they view or assess Google+.
- Econsultancy assesses Google+ in light of new psychological research from UCLA. The research alone is worth your reading time.
- What’s In a Name: Google+ Is Your Plus One Mashable explains how Google chose the name for their new social media platform and how the philosophy of +1 enhances every other Google product and service.
- Techcrunch ran a long article, Google+ Project: It’s Social, It’s Bold, It’s Fun, And It Looks Good — Now For The Hard Part, last month describing the features of Google+ and some of the underlying technology.
- The New York Times takes notice of Google+ in an article by Paul Boutin: What Google+ Is All About appearing in the Personal Tech column on June 30th.
- Wall Street Journal. presents a top line assessment of Google’s entry into the social media ecosystem A Review of Google+.
- Znet. Every party has a pooper. Znet found ten features that they think should be incorporated into Google+. (Did anyone tell them that it’s in beta?)
What the experts say about Google+
While everyone wants to be in the know and part of the cool circle (Google+ speak for gang), take some time to discover what some of the social media marketing thought leaders are saying. Interestingly, many of these experts have found that their articles on Google+ are among their most popular to-date.
- Jay Baer in his post Why Google Has the Hammer To Make Businesses Use Google Plus makes the case for business use of Google+. (Hint: Search!)
- David Berkowitz presents a useful Google+ FAQ. David is a social media tester par excellence and gives his feedback.
- Olivier Blanchard (aka The Brand Builder) weighs in on eight questions about Google+. He gives thoughtful responses.
- Chris Brogan’s top 50 thoughts on Google+. As a top Ad Age 150 blogger, Chris knows his way around new social media platforms. His testing of Google+ had an organized approach. Therefore, it’s a good starting place for anyone looking to get a feel for the platform before they take a deep dive.
- Jeff Bullas has an interesting perspective on Google+’s high level of engagement which is useful to marketers.
- Brian Clark (aka Copyblogger) weighs into the discussion by questioning whether Google+ is useful for content marketing.
- Heidi Cohen makes the case that Google+ is a battle for your time. (Okay, I know it’s linking to my blog!)
- Jason Falls created a ten minute video to give you a tour of Google+ combined with his feedback. It’s useful to watch Jason’s video before you start clicking around.
- John Jantsch, (aka Duct Tape Marketing) small business know-how expert, shares his five tips for integrating Google+ into your business routine.
- Christopher S. Penn, Blue Sky Vice President of Marketing, has put together a starting point for those of you who want to track your Google Plus results. No surprise, his step by step tutorial uses Google Analytics.
- David Pogue says, in his July 13th , New York Times Personal Tech column, Google+ Improves on Facebook, that even though this is a first test version, “Google’s less sprawling, more video-centric, better-controlled new service is already too good to ignore.”
- Robert Scobbles (aka Scobilizer), the enfant terrible of blogging, weighs in about Google+. If you’re not familiar with Robert, you’ve probably been hiding under an outdated, overweight computer. When Robert blogs, the tech world listens and so should you.
- Brian Solis wrote a very long post last week about everything Google+, claiming Google will not run Circles around Facebook, but it gets a +1.
- Danny Sullivan writes from a personal viewpoint commenting on the usability of Google+ and Twitter in his post, Google+ Vs. Twitter: A Personal View. He takes a “watch and see” attitude.
- Mark Zuckerberg, While he didn’t give Google+ a thumbs up or a thumbs down, he did say that the rise of social in more companies was in line with his view of the world. “I view a lot of this as validation as to how the next five years are going to play out,” he noted in a Facebook video chat.
Can you find me now? What Google Plus means for search marketing
What do the search experts have to say about Google+ and what do you need to know.
- Google+: The Good, the Bad and The Ugly. Search Engine Land weighs on the search giant’s social media move.
- Google+’s impact on Search in old media’s marketing bible, Ad Age, by Dave Williams.
- Optimizing your Google Profile. At a minimum, make sure you’re getting the most from your Google Profile. SEOptimise has ten tips.
- Google+ and Twitter Impact on Search. SEOmoz’s experiment is a must read if you’re concerned about social media and search.
- Local Only. Also on Search Engine Land, Andrew Shotland explores the possible impact of Google+ on local search in his post, What Will Google Plus Google Places Equal?
Get your tech on – Integrating Google Plus and technology
Do you want to be on top of how to integrate Google+ into platforms and tools? Then this section’s for you!
- The Google+ Cheat Sheet. Google+ is geeky. It has a number of keyboard shortcuts and editing macros. This cheat sheet from Mashable includes most of the common syntax, hotkeys and tips to enable you to use Google+ like a pro.
- Google+ Icons anyone? Here are 14 options to add to your social sharing on your blog or website.
- Photography anyone? Photographer Colby Brown has done a great job of laying out how to use Google+ for photographers including addressing IP rights and TOC. Even if you’re just a amateur using your smartphone, this post has useful information. Remember that photographs are important content!
- Google+ Sparks. Nate Riggs gives pointers on using Google+ Sparks as a listening post. This is a must for every marketer and PR expert.
- Searching Google+. It’s ironic that the 900 pound gorilla of search doesn’t enable participants to search their stream on their social media platform. Here’s a work around for searching your Google+ stream but be warned it’s VERY geeky.
- Chrome Extensions. Google+ doesn’t do everything yet. However, if you use their Chrome browser, you can add extensions to power up your Google+ experience, including one that will cross-post your feed items to Twitter and Facebook. Business Insider put together a review of the best Google Chrome extensions.
- Add your Googlecard to your WordPress blog or website. You can download a plugin from PlusDevs.com that will create a sidebar widget displaying your Google+ Profile card.
- +1 Everywhere. Google has not yet published a Google+ Application Programming Interface (API) to distribute its functionality to other websites as have Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms. However, you can add a plus one button to any web page to encourage your readers to share your content on the new service. Find out how on the Google +1 page.
- Google+ WordPress Themes. Google always gets good reviews from designers for its minimalist approach to web page design. Now, WordPress users can style their blogs like Google+ using one of a number of Google+ inspired themes, such as Reflex+ from CSS Reflex.
- Google+ goes mobile. Google announced a Google+ app for Android smartphones and tablets when it first opened the service. You can find it in the Android Marketplace. Now there’s also an app for iPhones. Search the App Store or download it from iTunes using your smartphone’s browser. While there’s no iPad app yet, you can still use Google+ on the popular tablet via the Safari web browser.
- Google+ wish list. Yes it’s Google but we can hope that they’re listening. Here are twelve items Google must get right. Josepf Haslam is on the money. What do you think?
Let’s play – How marketing can use Google Plus
While Google Plus isn’t ready for prime time marketing, you should be testing it on your own and making sure that it’s in your plans for next year. Here are some early indicators for marketers.
- How Google+ compares to other social media networks (Chart included!) This chart is a must-see for every marketer since it includes marketing implications.
- Google+, Businesses and Beyond. In this YouTube video, Christen Oestlien, a Google+ Product Manager, talks about his company’s plans to support “businesses, brands and other entities.”
- Google + for marketers. ClickZ Executive Editor Anna Maria Vizi gets feedback from columnists.
- How to use Google+ for your brand. Here’s 5 tips on how to get ready for Brand Pages on Google+ by Rob Schott via Search Engine Watch.
- Ford test drives Google+. Here’s ClickZ’s account of Ford’s presence on Google+.
- GooglePlus supports content marketing. Here are three content marketing tips via Content Marketing Institute.
- Google+ versus Facebook. Here’s an infographic for the visual among you.
- PR conferences anyone? Here’s an example of using a Google+ hangout for a press conference via Fast Company.
- Are you paying attention to how journalists are using Google+? If you’re a marketing or a PR professional, the media is critical to helping you get your message out. Here’s how journalists are testing Google+ as reported by TNW (aka The Next Web).
Regardless of your feelings for Google, Google+ is here to stay. Therefore, the sooner you get onto the platform and test it out, the faster you’ll be able integrate it into your marketing plans. One thing’s for certain, it’s critical to include it in your next year’s plans and related budget.
Big tip of my hat to everyone who’s work is cited in this post. You’ve really help get new Google+ users on-board and have contributed to the community as a whole. Also, big thanks to my webmaster, +Larry Aronson, who helped assemble this post.
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