Friday, July 22, 2011

Did Google+ Click the Over-Saturation Social Media Button?

By now, everyone has heard the buzz about Google's entry into social media. Known as Google+ or Google Plus, this new social media platform has been available by invitation only (or in tech-speak, to those who have access to go behind the "digital velvet rope") but has attracted widespread attention from the mainstream media as well as by technophiles. As one reporter wrote, Google+ is like arriving at a party hours before it is scheduled to start but no one else has arrived. Thanks to Google, have we reached the over-saturation point in social media, or do Facebook and Twitter need to be worried?

Here are the features of Google+:

  • Groups named as "circles" can be created consisting of specific people so that you can share content only with family or only with school pals or only with co-workers because in the words of Google CEO Larry Page, "in real life, we share different things with different people"
  • On the main page named the "stream," posts can be viewed by everyone or only by members of the circles that have been created
  • Places where groups of ten or less people meet to chat are called "hangouts"
  • News can be found based on any number of topics – in what Google+ refers to as "sparks"
  • Video and voice chats can be held with specific people in circles – some have said that this capability is even better than Skype
  • The sites that you indicate you like (+1) can also be included as part of the Google+ profile – these are the sites that, according to Google, "you like, agree with, or want to recommend to others"
  • Privacy settings are more user-friendly than other sites, for instance, anything on the profile can be set for public viewing or private viewing (e.g., who appears in circles, posts, about, photos, videos, +1’s)

There may be some very unique uses for Google+ that are not appropriate for Twitter or Facebook. For instance, tech super stores (Best Buy, Apple, Dell, etc.) could use hangouts or circles to address customer service issues. Businesses with a large number of telecommuters or international teams could use circles for brainstorming in more than 140 characters. While there are some things that can be stated easily in less than 140 characters, it’s sometimes necessary for making a long story even longer, and Twitter is not the place. College courses may use circles or hangouts for course discussion or exam preparation.

But, the big question yet to be answered is, how will Facebook and Google+ co-exist? Since Google+ has not yet launched to the public or been opened to brands, there is no easy answer. Google+ may be intriguing for the points stated above, but there will always be a loyal Facebook following. And while many Facebook users may dislike lists, the constantly-changing interface, and lack of attention when it comes to privacy, there is still much that appeals to over 500 million active users.

One thing to note, if you already had a Google Profile in the pre-Google+ days, that page automatically appears as part of your Google+ page. Again, in the pre-Google+ environment, the key reason for having a Google Profile was to make sure that you appeared in Google searches for your name and also to create a page where you could control content about you – that Google found.

So, if you have not joined the Google+ party and are on the fence, answer these five questions. Your answers will make the decision for you. But, if you decide to join Google+, visit my page at

  • Do you have time to allocate to another social media site?
  • What are your objectives as you build your presence on Google+?
  • How does Google+ fit into your annual marketing plan and overall social media strategy?
  • Are your customers and competitors already on Google+?
  • How will you measure your success on Google+?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Want to be nicknamed Strategy Guru?


Do you know how strategy and tactics differ? How many times have you heard someone talk about strategy without providing any substance? According to business expert Erika Andersen, “When people say apple or sunlight, there’s generally a shared definition. But people have no common definition for strategy.” In her book, Being Strategic: Plan for Success, Out-Think Your Competitors, Stay Ahead of Change, Andersen explains the differences between discussing strategy, defining strategy, and actually being strategic – so your business benefits.

The core of strategy, according to Andersen, is a journey with four parts.
[1] What Is? – an exploration of the current situation and how it came to be
[2] What’s the Hope? – The hoped-for future: clearly defined, realistic, and aspirational
[3] What’s in the Way? – an understanding of what’s blocking movement from “what is” to “hoped-for future”
[4] What’s the Path? – the plan to overcome obstacles and achieve hoped-for future

Perhaps the reason that so many people don’t like discussing or working on strategies is because they don’t like to focus on what isn’t working. But isn’t success better than lack of success? By focusing on the four-part journey described by Andersen, the process for creating strategies and tactics is easy. At the end of every chapter, Andersen provides worksheets to analyze your individual business situations and put her theories into practice. But let’s never forget the importance of collaboration with other employees, alignment with other business units, and adherence to project budgets and timing.

Here’s a refresher for key business success terms:
* Mission: why we exist, our unique purpose as an organization
* Vision: what we would look like if we were more fully achieving that purpose: our hoped-for future as a company, fulfilling our mission
* Obstacles: what might make it difficult for us to be the company we envision, achieving our purpose
* Strategy: core directional choices toward becoming the company we envision
* Tactics: specific actions that will best implement those strategies

If you want to be nicknamed the “Strategy Guru” in your office, then learn these easy-to-follow steps for strategic planning and action:
[1] Be clear about the problem you’re trying to solve
[2] Figure out where you’re starting from
[3] Imagine your “castle on the hill” – your ultimate goal
[4] Identify the “trolls under the bridge” – the obstacles in your path
[5] Outline the path to the “castle” – your core strategies and the tactics for implementing the strategies
[6] Re-evaluate your strategy and tactics as conditions change

Visit Erika’s website:

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