Wayne Denner is great at providing quality insights and open discussion opportunities on digital strategy, if you have the opportunity, I highly recommend grabbing a coffee to inspire some blue ocean thinking! His recent post below about G+ provides some honest feedback on G+ from both a consumer and business perspective.
From a purist business perspective, G+ is an essential component of a digital strategy, primarily due to the inextricable connection between search (paid and natural) and building on the P/O/E media attribution model / strategy it is vital to ensure that your brand is present and active. Just think of all the Google products, and how they are now being consumed & intertwined through the use of G+ also, think of how your business is presented on them (if at all). If you don’t get this today, you need some help!
Google+ is more than just a Facebook competitor, what G+ represents for the future of (Google) Search and the user online interactions are essentially the first real steps towards the semantic web (aka a component of Web 3.0) and long-term, will ultimately change how we all use the web.
(Mashable blog posts on this subject can be seen here…oh and here among so many other places!) (See Guardian article about G+ influence on charities).
Why I think Google+ is Awesome & some changes it needs to make…
Guest Post by @waynedenner
Every so often I like to push out a Tweet saying how wonderful I think Google+ is and how I feel it’s going to be a game changer in relation to how we interact with social media. Usually and more times than I can remember I get replies from people with statements like “It Sucks” or “Dunno how you have the patience with Google+” being examples of recent messages I have received in relation to the platform. But here’s the thing. Just because it does not have 1 Billion people using it yet, does not mean it sucks.
So just a few of the reasons I like it, in no particular order:
- Loving Circles: Although with other platforms mainly Facebook you can group contacts, friends, followers etc, the whole aspect of Circles really excites me. Within Google+ for me at least it seems a simple and straight forward way of managing interaction with different groups of people and engaging with them with messages or posts which are of most use and relevance to their interests. In a nutshell, when I decide to share content or a post on Google+, I get to decide who sees it. This gives me further flexibility to organise my circles and add users based on connections within these. This can also become very useful if you’re a business needing to segment your audience.
- Hangouts: Over the past number of months I have really started to use the Hangout feature. I must admit when I first joined Google+ being an early adopter there was not much point in creating or using hangouts but as the platform has started to grow and more users like me are realising the benefits of + there are increasingly more opportunities to create Hangouts. For anyone reading this who has no idea what I am talking out, it’s as the name suggests, a chat room of sorts and gives you the power to Video chat with other users by hosting virtual meetings with up to 10 people. I like to use it most for team collaboration. For example, if I’m working on a marketing project which has designers, developers and marketing professionals in different parts of the world we can all join the hangout and engage via video and voice. As part of this interaction Hangouts offers a suite of productivity apps, which can allow sharing of onscreen information in Google Docs and the facility to view presentations and diagram together.
- Integration with other Services: Many of us currently use other services and products from Google, eg Gmail or You Tube. With it’s plans to continue to grow and acquire other products and services, integration becomes key in its strategy to position itself as a major social platform player. With everything being integrated there is increased time spent on the platform, better engagement and less likelihood of the user seeking to want to find alternatives.
There are of course many other benefits when it comes to using the platform for business & personal purposes. There is no doubt that Google aims to become a major player within Social Networking. It’s biggest problem is trying to move users across from the other big platforms, mainly Facebook & Twitter and users are reluctant to do that. Other challenges include page administration which can be difficult and many Social Dashboards still don’t integrate with Google+. Up until the launch of its mobile app, this has always been the big let down for me and an area which is proving to be key for brands seeking ways to push out content to social channels to drive engagement. But for me the big one to date has to be the Mobile Application for IOS. As a massive mobile app user I was impressed with its clean user friendly UI. However, If you are like me and you have a personal profile as well as pages for brands which you manage, the big letdown comes from not being able to flick between accounts without having to sign out and back in again and then choose the account which you wish to use this for me and other users particularly marketing professionals using it is a big failure and something which needs addressed sooner rather than later.
To sum up, Google+ is a great platform but there are areas in which it needs to focus on refining its user experience and work on building connections with its current user base as well as taking steps to ensure the experience is second to none. Although growth may be small there is still great opportunity to improve winning across user ambassadors who can champion awareness via other more well-known platforms. Moving forward Google will need to focus a lot more on its mobile platform as this is where the Big Winners will be.
About Wayne Denner
Wayne Denner is a leading digital marketing professional and lecturer.
With over 14 years experience in traditional & digital marketing, Wayne has planned and developed successful campaigns for clients across the UK and Ireland, including Diageo, Carphone Warehouse, Specsavers,Drinkaware.co.uk, Orange, Armagh City & District Council, Invest NI, Newry & Mourne District Council and O2.
He has been at the forefront of the rapidly-changing digital marketing industry for over a decade and is an expert on emerging trends including social engagement, online reputation management, branding media, web 2.0 & e-commerce platforms.
Wayne also lectures on the Chartered Institute of Marketing program on Digital Marketing Essentials & Integrating Digital Media & Branding and is currently writing a book on the subject.
Follow him on Twitter @waynedenner