Advisory: Google+ Begins Booting Brands

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Image by Sean MacEntee

by Danny Brown and Geoff Livingston

Much has been said about marketing on Google+. Both of us have been intentionally conservative about marketing on the new network due to a statement from Google+ specifically asking businesses and brands to wait until it formalized its business offering. This offering is rumored to include an open API for applications and data usage. Yesterday, a confirmed report from KCET-TV in LA surfaced that Google+ community managers are enforcing the brand “no fly zone.”

To date, ABC News Radio, LAUNCH and Boing Boing have all been removed, or have voluntarily taken down their Google+ profiles. In the face of complaints about brands being unceremoniously dispatched, community managers have indicated that Google+ will focus on optimizing interaction between people first.

Dewitt clinton google plus
Image from KCET-TV

Both Bonsai Interactive and Zoetica represent real brands, corporate and nonprofit. We are posting this advisory to provide clear guidance for our clients and network on how to approach Google+ during this interim phase:

1) Do not invest in formal brand marketing on Google+. As we have seen, Google+ is now policing its network and you risk losing your entire time investment. Further, until the business offering is created by Google, no one really knows how corporations and nonprofits can successfully navigate this new social network. In essence, until Google+ for business is released efforts are likely to be all for naught.

2) Do experiment on Google+ and learn how the network works using your personal profile. It’s too soon to formally say that Google+ will be a significant consumer network, but with reports of 18 million followers and growing, momentum indicates the network is succeeding. Further, as demonstrated by its policing of the network, Google is clearly focused on community first. Becoming knowledgable through participation on Google+ is prudent at this point.

3) Be wary of marketing services firms and individuals who are seeking paid fees for Google+ marketing insights. Again, per the first point, no one really knows how to market on Google+. Investing financially in Google+ is not a good use of resources until finite offerings are available. Ethically speaking we would not charge our clients for advice and strategies in the face of such uncertainty.

Google+ is starting field trials with brands in the immediate future. As Google works through the kinks and formalizes its offering, it is a great time to become comfortable with the social network.

Many of our fellow bloggers are openly sharing their insights and learning together in a fashion we have not seen in years. Enjoy this time, friends. This kind of new social network launch is unprecedented.

Editor’s Note: Just before publishing this post, NBC voluntarily pulled down its Google+ profile.

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  • http://www.ackermannpr.com Shane Rhyne

    Great advice. I have been advising clients the same thing, especially regarding exploring the network personally.

    • Anonymous

      Thank you, Shane.

  • http://www.apriltara.com April Tara

    I kept seeing all kinds of music promoters last week asking about Google+ and just chomping at the bit to make a profile for their business so they could start promoting their shows. I warned them not to. And, like you guys, I encouraged people to be patient and explore through a personal profile for now. Most of them are doing just that but I did get a “tsk tsk” for not seeing the potential marketing value in Google+. Sorry, but urging people to follow the rules and not risk account deletion has nothing to do with seeing the marketing value.

    This was my take on it, as it applies to bands and musicians: http://obscuredbysound.wordpress.com/2011/07/14/what-google-can-do-for-the-music-industry/

    • Anonymous

      Good advice, April. I also think that the early adopter/majority phase is pretty much the remainder of the year.  No one is going to have a dominant G+ brand in 2011, and waiting until the formal offering comes out may actually allow for better network weaving in the interim, strength of community, and the ability to create a stronger integrated strategy that is inclusive of G+.

      • Shyam Madhavan Sarada

        Great piece and comments! Thought I’ll add my 2 cents:

        If you consider ‘people-brands’ like the social networking superstars (Robert Scoble, for example), they are already well on their way of shepherding the masses and influencing public opinion among G+ users. They are indeed powerful brands in this medium.

        My experience of G+ so far has been that there is very strong competition for our eyeballs from bloggers, techno-experts and other individuals, who have been trying to assess the reach and effectiveness of this greenfield. Most of their effort is, however, biased towards the law of averages, where if your numbers are big enough in terms of reach, you’re bound to hit critical mass sooner or later. A constant stream of content is already the order of the day and managing it is already proving difficult, even with the very convenient and intuitive ‘circles’. Effectiveness and engagement, on the other hand, seem to be a work-in-progress.

        Brands are here to stay and G+ optimising it for business is definitely going to add to clutter. Unless they do extensive social research and come up with a very clear strategy to keep them away from the general public, or at least keep them distinct (identifiable at first-glance, for example), they may end up having to do what Facebook does, fix problems AFTER they create havoc.

        In any case G+ is here to stay, by the looks of it.

        • Anonymous

          Interesting analysis. I just published a report breaking down comScore’s data about Google+’s first 20 million.  Truth is most of these influencers — with the exception of Scoble — don’t reach even 30,000 people with less than 1% of the U.S. population, and well under .2% of the global population. And this is before real people come on. Those percentages will go down.

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  • http://dr1665.com Brian Driggs

    Here’s a novel idea: Let’s leave the business profiles out of this network entirely unless they want to pay Google for the advertising opportunity (in an environment which preserves the user’s right to effectively filter marketing content from their streams at-will).

    Let those who want to pay to blast us with their pointless, self-aggrandizing crap burn through their cash flow at will. Say hello to my little (red circle) friend.

    The problem with all the DSC marketing PR blather is that it perpetuates the sub-conscious belief that our customers are somehow different from those of us within the business; that we should treat them differently than we do each other. Besides, brand is a function of action and results – not the keyword-rich bullshit some hack manager wants to pretend the organization stands for. This is an opportunity to demonstrate the power of action over words.

    How much more meaningful is it to share what you do as being what YOU actually DO?

    I’ve got Twitter and Facebook accounts for my business, but earlier this week, I shared some of my work on G+ from my (obviously) PERSONAL account and actually got GREATER responses from REAL people, who HAPPILY shared my work with their connections, than I’ve EVER got from those other “channels.”

    Given a bit more adoption within my circles, and a decent mobile app (I’m on a Blackberry right now, going Android this summer), I’m already knee-deep in “Should I keep or close my Twitter/Facebook accounts…?”

    Stop chasing “best practices” and start living them.

    • Anonymous

      LOL, excellent rant, Brian. I often long for the old days when we actually lived this stuff instead of talking it. We both know though that they are gone, and that there is a vested PR community that has “figured out” social network marketing.  At least how to create a bunch of casual mentions. Community? Well, that’s a different story.

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     These tips are extremely beneficial. These are things that anyone can easily do to know about Google +. Thanks for the share…

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  • http://thefuturebuzz.com AdamSinger

    “Be wary of marketing services firms and individuals who are seeking paid fees for Google+ marketing insights.”  — “A fool and their money are soon parted”

    • Anonymous

      Unfortunately so. And the fool loves to brag about it, creating a networked effect. Sigh.

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  • http://spinsucks.com Gini Dietrich

    Well, you know where I stand on this. I’m glad Google is taking a stance…let them figure out how all of this works first. I say bravo!

    • Anonymous

      I look forward to diving into the official business offering in a couple of months.

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