Google May Finally Have Social Legs with Google+

30 06 2011

google plus

Tuesday was a big day for Google.  The long anticipated social network from Google, speculated and leaked for the past year on all the major tech blogs, finally made its debut.  Google+ is the latest effort by the search giant to gain a foothold in the space currently dominated by Facebook.  Google’s previous attempts with Wave (lots of potential but too buggy and slow) and Buzz (failed from the start with privacy concerns) were utter failures.  This time, there is an entire set of products within the service, each designed to bring social connections to Google in different ways:

  • Google+ Circles: At the heart of Google+ is Circles.  To counter the Facebook and Twitter philosophy of openness, Google+ users have to group their contacts into specific circles right from start.  Twitter does have Lists, but they’re optional, and Facebook makes grouping friends too complicated. Plus, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg thinks Facebook users just don’t want to do that.  From initial accounts, Circles are easy to set up with drag-and-drop and attractive animations.
  • Google+ Stream: Your home base will be the Stream.  But it’s not much different from the Twitter feed or Facebook Newsfeed.
  • Google+ Sparks: Sparks is a topical search engine, where users can find content (blogs, videos, etc) on theirinterests in one central location.  Users can bookmark their favorite items, share with friends, and comment as well.
  • Google+ Hangouts: The first truly unique feature to Google+ that could really give it a leg up on competition is Hangouts.  It’s essentially an open-ended group video chat that friends in your Circle can join at anytime they see a Hangout happening.  Whoever is talking, Hangouts will automatically make their window the biggest.  Friends can also share content with each other during the chat.
  • Google+ Huddle: The other big feature that could help grow Google+ is Huddle, a group-messaging feature that spans Android, iOS, and SMS.  Blackberry’s BBM users are very familiar with group messaging and the latest version of iOS (5) will also have a similar messaging feature.
  • Instant Upload: Using the Google+ Android app, users can upload photos or videos quickly to their Google+ Stream.  But oddly enough, photos uploaded here are not uploaded to Picasa, the major Google photo service.
  • Location: Users can check-in to Places and geo-tag their updates.

Pretty much all the tech blogs got an early invite.  These first looks have included positive reactions, talk about ease of use, and eye-catching aesthetics.  People like this latest social effort and want to keep coming back.  However, Google is being very cautious right now, insisting on calling it a “project” and not a finished “product”.  It’s in a very limited test run, and invites are slowly rolling out.  Whether Google+ outlives Wave or Buzz is yet to be determined, but it looks like for now Google finally has a social product to build and nurture.  We’re certainly excited to test it out, but if you’ve have been lucky enough to get one, give us your take.  What do you think of Google+ ?





Small Businesses are Going Mobile

28 06 2011

There is so much talk about mobile these days, which is one topic I am particularly interested in.  Combine that with our client focus towards SMBs, this recent infographic stood out.  Titled “How Small Businesses Rely on Mobile“, it breaks down how SMBs are utilizing their phones from motivations, top markets, and more.

smb mobile use

One particular stat stood out to me because it’s a valid question we get from clients sometime.  As a SMB owner with daily operations to worry about, how do they find time to conduct social media marketing?  Where do they find the time to sit down at their computer to tweet, post videos, or interact with Facebook fans?  Well based off the stats above, the second most popular use of mobile phones by SMB owners is for social media.  It’s hard to find excuses these days for not participating in social media.  Use a team of employees, use the latest tools that allow a centralized dashboard of all your profiles (update from one location, schedule many updates in advance, etc), and use your phone.  Post while waiting in line somewhere or post while on public transportation.  With the continued rise of smart phones, I would expect that 26% to increase.





Focus on Increasing Customer Loyalty to Increase Small Business Revenue (Formic on iMedia Connection)

22 04 2011

Generating brand, product and service advocates is paramount for small businesses seeking to grow company revenue and meet long-term growth goals.  Working with small businesses on a daily basis has given me a deep appreciation for the impact that loyal customers and brand advocates can have on a business.  It is important for small businesses to use their resources and time to keep their loyal customers loyal.

A study conducted by Fred Reicheld of Bain & Company, Inc. stated that “a 5% increase in customer retention produces more than a 25% increase in profit”.  For many companies, this correlation between customer retention and profit could result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual revenue gained.  And, not only do loyal customers mean continual revenue, but they can become a powerful source of word-of-mouth marketing and promotion for a company or brand.

Read the full post on iMedia Connection.





Google Search Heads Social

30 03 2011

Google has just released a new feature called Google +1.  This new feature gives users the ability to +1(Like) or add a tally to search results, which in turn will help add a socially shared relevancy measurement for search results.  Developers will also have the ability to add the +1 buttons to website pages which in turn will feed your pages overall tally.  Currently users will only be able to see the +1 tally’s from their contacts within their Gmail (or Google Talk) chat list, “My Contacts” group in Google Contacts and People they’re following in Google Reader and Google Buzz.

Google has hinted that they will monitor participation with +1, which in turn could affect its involvement in future search algorithm changes(Think Hotpot for organic).  This feature is being rolled out as I write this, so you will have to opt-in through Google Labs/Experiments if you currently aren’t seeing it.





Social Media at Its Best

2 02 2010

If you have a Facebook account, I’m sure you’ve recently noticed the influx of celebrity pictures showing up in your friends list.  That would be due to Facebook’s Doppelganger (the ghostly double of a living person) Week.  I went through the motions of creating my own celebrity-look-alike and was crushed by the results:

Of all the people in the world, I look most like Titanic co-star Kate Winslet…  To further crush my hopes and dreams of ever having a future in male modeling; I discovered that additionally I am a pedigree of a Child Actor, a British Prime Minister, a Flamboyant Las Vegas Entertainer and an American Politician with a penchant for screaming.  I honestly don’t know which one can be considered the worst.

While I sit here pondering what went wrong, the company hosting this service (as well as the Facebook app relating to this) is reaping the benefits.

Myheritage is a website specializing in family tree creation and interactive Genealogy.

Referring to Alexa Site Statistics for myheritage.com you can see colossal leaps in site traffic and activity across the board.  Specifically in the past 7 days they have experienced:

  • 53% growth  in User Reach
  • 114% more Page Views
  • 22% more Time on Site
  • 115% increase in Search Engine Traffic
  • Bounce Rate has dropped 8%
  • Gained 1340 positions in Alexa’s Rankings into the top 1000 websites in terms of traffic

http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/myheritage.com#trafficstats

Their social media presence on Facebook has inherently fed their organic search results for related terms such as facial recognition and celebrity look alike.

Brilliantly, they are also building a large user base through this process as repeated use of the celebrity generators requires a username and password, which also completes most of the information for your genealogy tree, which of course is their core product.

Whether myheritage.com was behind this well executed marketing scheme or not, it’s safe to say they capitalized on the opportunity and are reaping the social media rewards.





Twitter + Location-Based Tweets = “TwitterStalk”

21 08 2009

Location is everything.  So it comes as no surprise that one of the fastest climbing social media sites on the web is adding a location feature to their social toolset.  Twitter has just announced that their new location API will soon be rolled out to users to couple location data with individual tweets for a more robust set of information.  Imagine you are road tripping to Portland to visit a friend and make a Quiznos pit-stop.  As a Twitter user they will be able to tell that you are at the Quiznos in Hood River and will arrive on their doorstep in under an hour.  This combination will in theory make each tweet more meaningful (as content and users will be searchable by actual location), relevant and develop into a more powerful business, marketing and personal tool with this additional layer of data.

Not long from now, knowing someone’s precise location in real-time will be a huge part of how Twitter is turning the corner towards new and data-driven innovations – even before Facebook has had the chance to add a similar location-based element to their site.  Being able to accurately “TwitterStalk” an individual by location may raise speculation, but perhaps this “I know Where You Tweeted from Last” addition will be able to bring relevancy to even the most useless of tweets by placing them in context by location.  Thus, making the Twitter experience more impactful for more users.

And on another note, the opt-in aspect of this location feature should help to avoid the indignation of even their most privacy-paranoid users.  Your location will only be shared if you check the box.

So how will this change help us and help Twitter users worldwide?

  • People will be able to more accurately search for the information they are looking for.
  • Tweets can be filtered efficiently by location, making you an even more informed stalker.
  • There is the potential to build and launch a location-based ad network – which I know we’ve all been waiting to see when Twitter would take a stab at this.

We, as social media users and consumers, are much more adapted to the constant changes that happen daily within the social media landscape than we were just 3 years ago.  In the fall of 2006, I can recall the racket that ensued around my college campus when Facebook added their first generation “Mini-Feed”, and which quickly inspired an outburst of “groups against the Facebook Mini-Feed” in heated protest.  This whole new level of knowledge of what friends were doing on Facebook was mind boggling.  Now several years down the road, the idea that we can see the actual location that someone is posting from is exciting and highly anticipated by many users.  Getting news and information from friends and connections in real-time is the norm, and waiting to read headlines as they roll off the press seems archaic.

With the rise of Twitter and the mass of second-by-second information sharing, the need and expectation that this would be taken to the next level was imminent.  Location information is the next big thing, and the big online powerhouses like Google have already begun their work on it.  Google was on the ball first, launching Google Latitude.  The smart players like Twitter have to adapt, re-tool and innovate to not only keep up, but to continue to evolve the way we use social media.





Social Media and the Masses

28 07 2009

Facebook.  Twitter.  MySpace.  Today is the “golden age,” the renaissance, the awakening, of social media sites.  From Facebook to Twitter, not only is the user population exploding, but businesses of all sizes from the “David” (small) to the “Goliath” (large) are seizing the opportunity to reel in the masses and promote themselves.

One of the largest social media sites on the scene, Facebook, currently has over 250 million active users, with 120 million of them logging on at least once per day.  These numbers are gargantuan compared to the early 2000’s, or the “dark ages” when I myself joined the elite Facebook clique.  A select few of my former high school buddies had the special privilege to be part of this newfound type of social media.  Since then the small town group has expanded into an extremely large community where now thousands of my tiny Texas high school comrades are members. It is only coincidental that the fast growing demographic of new Facebook users is the over 35 crowd.  And that is just one example on how the dark ages of social media experienced an awakening of sorts and transformed itself from one little weed in your lawn, to your lawn being all weeds.

Looking back 1 to 2 years, I didn’t even know what a “tweet” was.  Fast forward to today and Twitter is the new rage of social media, and businesses from small to large, are spreading their wings on Twitter by storm.  Why you might ask?  752% is why.  That is the amount of growth that Twitter has experienced in the last year.  Twitter allows a business to not only communicate effectively with its customer base through tweets, but also allows sales, specials, and promotions to be advertised.  Think of it as the free version of non-traditional advertising.  Particularly the struggling airlines (lower your fares!) and local businesses have established their little places of happiness on Twitter, targeting leisure travelers and the local foodie crowd.

Communicating with your constituency is an advantage that conglomerates on Twitter have.  Particularly, both United Airlines and Alaska Airlines frequently advertise fare specials and communicate with their fliers through Twitter.  United has “TWARES,” fares available only to their 18,000 loyal followers, most recently advertising a cheap fare between the Gateway City and the lovely Windy City.  Alaska Airlines most recently advertised a fare sale between Portland and Southern Alaska, which I wish was still going on, as the heat is unbearable in Portland this week.  Keep your reputation and feelings towards your business above the clouds by communicating directly with your customer base, which in this day and economy is more important than just selling products.

Local businesses in Portland have carved their space onto Twitter as well.  Burgerville, a restaurant chain in Washington and Oregon, that has the best onion rings ever, recently used Twitter to promote its new mobile cart the “Nomad.”  The location of the “Nomad” was publicized via Twitter to the masses, generating large interest in the Burgerville brand.  Fortunately the “Nomad” parked itself only a few blocks away from our local Formic offices here in Portland.  We all enjoyed fries, burgers, and Oregon raspberry lemonade, which are not usually readily available for our lunchtime cravings.

What’s the moral of the story?   The answer is that any business, from a small mom and pop shop to a multi-billion dollar worldwide corporation, can benefit from the use of social media sites.  Use it to reach out to your local consumer base to advertise specials for free without selling your soul to traditional forms of print and television advertising.  Make yourself known! Crush your competitors (not literally) and take the upper hand in these tough economic times by reaching out to your constituents!

If you’re interested in cost effective online marketing and overtaking your competitors by setting up a social media campaign, our team has a plan for you.

Facebook. Twitter. MySpace. Today is the “golden age,” the renaissance, the awakening, of social media sites. From Facebook to Twitter, not only is the user population exploding, but businesses of all sizes from the “David” (small) to the “Goliath” (large) are seizing the opportunity to reel in the masses and promote themselves.

One of the largest social media sites on the scene, Facebook, currently has over 250 million active users, with 120 million of them logging on at least once per day. These numbers are gargantuan compared to the early 2000’s, or the “dark ages” when I myself joined the elite Facebook clique. A select few of my former high school buddies had the special privilege to be part of this newfound type of social media. Since then the small town group has expanded into a extremely large community where now thousands of my tiny Texas high school comrades are members. It is only coincidental that the fast growing demographic of new Facebook users is the over 35 crowd. And that is just one example on how the dark ages of social media experienced an awakening of sorts and transformed itself from one little weed in your lawn, to your lawn being all weeds.

Looking back 1 to 2 years, and I didn’t even know what a “tweet” was. Fast forward to today and Twitter is the new rage of social media, and businesses from small to large, are spreading their wings on Twitter by storm. Why you might ask? 752% is why. That is the amount of growth that Twitter has experienced in the last year. Twitter allows a business to not only communicate effectively with its customer base through tweets, but also allows sales, specials and promotions to be advertised. Think of it as the free version of non-traditional advertising. Particularly the struggling airlines (lower your fares!) and local businesses have established their little places of happiness on Twitter, targeting leisure travelers and the local foodie crowd.

Communicating with your constituency is an advantage that conglomerates on Twitter have. You’re your reputation and feelings above the clouds by communicating directly with your customer base, which in this day and economy is more important than just selling products. Particularly, both United Airlines and Alaska Airlines frequently advertise fare specials and communicate with their fliers through Twitter. United has “TWARES,” fares available only to their 18,000 loyal followers, most recently advertising a cheap fare between the Gateway City and the lovely Windy City. Alaska Airlines most recently advertised a fare sale between Portland and Southern Alaska, which I wish was still going on, as the heat is unbearable in Portland this week.

Local businesses in Portland have carved their space onto Twitter as well. Burgerville, a restaurant chain in Washington and Oregon, that has the best onion rings ever, recently used Twitter to promote its new mobile cart the “Nomad.” The location of the “Nomad” was publicized via Twitter to the masses not generating large interest in the Burgerville brand. Fortunately the “Nomad” parked itself only a few blocks away from our local Formic offices here in Portland. We all enjoyed fries, burgers, and Oregon raspberry lemonade, which are not usually readily available for our lunchtime cravings.

What’s the moral of the story? The answer is that any business, from a small mom and pop shop to a multi-billion dollar worldwide corporation can benefit from the use of social media sites. Use it to reach out to your local consumer base to advertise specials for free without selling your soul to traditional forms of print and television advertising. Make yourself known! Crush your competitors (not literally) and take the upper hand in these tough economic times by reaching out to your constituents!

If you’re interested in cost effective online marketing and overtaking your competitors by setting up a social media campaign, our team has a plan for you.








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