Google+ Goes Public, Will it Survive

Today’s big news the announcement that Google+ is open to the general public. Google+ invites were in big demand when the service first launched sometime in June, and the service quickly attracted 20 million visitors in its first month. I’ve been “sort of using” the service since the end of June, and have accumulated 230 additions to my Circles. But, I have to admit, I don’t use it half as much as I use Twitter and Facebook. In fact, I still have 150 invitations left. What I’ve seen so far is just a duplication of posts that I read elsewhere. But, I’m not ready to give up on it quite yet. I kind of have a feeling Google knows what it’s doing with this one. *wink*  (Yes, I bought in to Wave and never really used it much)

What is interesting to me is that the doors to the public flung open just days before Facebook’s f8 conference. (Sept. 22nd in San Francisco). Note to self: need to move to Frisco, a lot of cool stuff going on out there. Are we ready for a new social media war? laid out some of the new features Google+ is launching, including mobile support for the Google+ video chat feature known as “Hangouts.” Yet over on WebProNews, they look to have declared Google+ dead.

It will be interesting to see how the general public responds. The one thing I know is that if there is a social media war,  the public stands to benefit greatly as the leaders start rolling out even more features to compete. Let the war begin!


Beyond Social Media – Fundamental Shift in Communication Continues

Social media created a major shift in the way we communicate, but this isn’t the end of the story, it’s only the beginning. I’ve been researching virtual environments and virtual worlds for almost 4 years now, and was a little disappointed in the fact that applications like Facebook and Twitter exploded onto the scene shifting the focus away from what I think is an even more powerful tool for social interaction.

Right now, virtual environments are being used heavily in teaching and simulations, by universities & government, and enterprise is starting to get more comfortable with this through virtual events. Healthcare is adapting this technology for training as well.

But, what’s not happening (yet)  is a fuller understanding of how social interaction through virtual environments can facilitate traditional business models in sales and marketing.

I ran across this video yesterday, and while it’s promoting the use of virtual events, which I personally still find quite boring, it does speak to where I believe we’re going, an on demand 24/7 virtual way of doing business.

“Virtual environments can positively impact business transactions. In this video discussion, 6Connex CEO, Kevin Carbone, and CTO, Leon Papkoff, discuss how this emerging marketing channel improves information delivery and collapses the sales cycle through accelerated engagement and information exchange.”

Using Virtual Technology to Address Vertical… by DesignReactor

Analytics, Dashboards and Your Customers

One of the biggest web analytics tools in the industry is IBM’s Coremetrics. Recently, I attended a webinar called “You Have Data, Now What?” The first speaker was Eric Peterson of Web Analytics Demystified fame.

If you haven’t seen the recent whitepaper “Dashboards Are Not A Strategy“, I highly suggest you do.  You’ll have to register to receive a copy, but well worth the price of giving your email address.

The premise is that delivering snazzy reports to your boss or upper management is not the goal of web analytics. The goal is to be able to take that data collected, combine it with your understanding and knowledge of the business you’re in and leverage it to create value to the shareholders, the business and your customers.

In my experience, I’ve seen managers requiring dashboards to include in a PowerPoint or hang on an office wall. You spend oodles of hours, sometimes days, getting all the information gathered and formatted into beautiful charts and graphs. You analyze the data against the information it has given you, and then stand before a room full of peers and your boss, watching heads bounce up and down in implied agreement your recommendations. But then something else happens. Everyone gets up and goes back to their work at hand, only to return the next week, or the next month to do it all over again. Little or no action is taken against those metrics. You walked into that room excited, you walk out of that room disheartened.

It’s not their fault.. web analytics isn’t easy. It takes time and effort, but foremost it takes a strategy. There isn’t a software developed yet that can create a strategy for your company. You know your business, you know what you or your managers want to achieve, now you just need to communicate that and integrate it into the overall strategy for the business.

MLM’s Aggressively Enter the Social Media Space

Along with the ever rising number of social media tools, there seems to be an almost frantic rate of participation by MLM’s searching for the golden ticket to increase revenue. I can appreciate the desire to increase your reach and revenue but what has really got me perturbed is the onslaught of the people in MLM’s who are suddenly posturing themselves as an expert in the social media space as well, teaching their recruits the ways to fish for followers, or stalk and make nice with strangers on Facebook before luring them in to make the sale.

I’ll share this example. One of my personal favorite fitness guru’s, whom I’ve been a follower of long before social media entered the picture, is suddenly teaching her followers how to increase recruiting and revenue by sharing (cough..selling) the companies products via social media. This guru offers free and paid classes in how to set-up your Facebook page, how to Twitter without being pushy (in the beginning), and even techniques in creating videos to gain audience. All of this is great. Mentoring your team is wonderful. But, it made me stop and wonder why a fitness guru is suddenly branding themselves as a social media expert. If fitness is your core brand, why would you feel the need to stray from message and confuse your audience. Isn’t your product enticing enough? If it’s not, social media isn’t going to make it so. Or is your REAL product recruitment?

And, doesn’t it make you a little suspicious of the value of the product offering if it’s constantly being shoved in your face?

Recently this particular “guru” was touting a tool called Tweetadder, designed to Find and Engage in Like-Minded Twitter Followers & Automate Twitter Posts.  I decided to test it out. It worked exactly like it said would. I was able to consistently add new followers automatically, day and night, while I was sleeping or just AFK.  However, the ultimate result was that I had a mess on my hands in short order. The new accounts I was following weren’t always sending the kinds of messages I was interested in reading, and they were cluttering my view of the key contacts I wanted to engage with. I was getting those spamming DM’s to view this or that or connect on FB.

It was simple enough to fix that situation. I simply went back through HUNDREDS of following records and added the key contacts to a list I could monitor. Then I used my Tweetdeck to set up a Key Contacts column, thus ensuring I didn’t miss something important.

My point though, is that the fitness guru neglected to mention to her followers that it’s not all about amassing followers and pushing your message and crossing your fingers that someone leaps at your offer. Maybe the odds could support that strategy, but to what end? But, ultimately, social media was designed to allow us to take part in multi-directional conversations in or around the content on the Web. How can you engage in conversations, well, effective conversations with thousands of users? In my opinion, you can’t. The best you can hope for is “spray and pray”. Which to me is not an effective marketing strategy. I think this type of marketing tactic is going to be a leading factor in the impending social fatigue we’re likely to see.