Archive for December, 2012

Be True to Your Business this Holiday Season

Friday, December 28th, 2012

Guest post by Megan Totka.

`Tis the season, right? I’ve noticed a recent trend when shopping during the Christmas season. People are very un-jolly. After asking around a bit, I realized this unhappiness was actually bottled up confusion. Are workers allowed to wish their customers a “Merry Christmas?” What if that customer is Jewish or a Jehovah’s Witness? Is it offensive? Maybe you should just wish them “Happy Holidays” instead. That covers everything. But Witnesses don’t celebrate any winter holidays. So that could even be construed as offensive. Your best bet is to just say nothing. No, that won’t be offensive at all.

Is it Christmas or "the holdiays"?Depending on the industry your business is in, Christmas and the holiday season in general is a hugely important time of the year. For me, the more festive a shop is, the more likely I am to make my purchases there. When I’m buying food for my holiday feasts, or stocking stuffers and gifts for my loved ones, I have Christmas music playing loudly in my car and my energy level is high. I’m on a mission and I have the Christmas spirit in me. The last thing I need is someone afraid to wish me a “Merry Christmas” for fear that I’ll get offended. Is that what the country has come to?

For b2c businesses, Christmastime usually means a huge increase in revenue. Sales are typically much higher. Promoting holiday joy through marketing may just seem like a marketing ploy to some, but, in my opinion, it’s pretty important and a rather easy way to help shoppers feel more generous towards their loved ones by spending more money with your business. It’s a win-win for you and them.

There seems to be a trend to keep the holidays politically correct. There was even a rumor that President Obama had begun referring to the White House Christmas tree as a holiday tree. Is the tree representative of any other religious traditions? Is there a Hanukkah tree that I’m not aware of? Calling the tree a holiday tree does nothing. Your customers are still going to get the indication that you are displaying a Christmas tree whether you say “Christmas” or not. If you are going for a more generic winter wonderland, skip the tree. Decorate with snowmen or gingerbread men. Or be multi-religious by having both Santa and Christmas decorations and a menorah and dreidel to represent more cultures.

Obviously, not all businesses are retail based. This doesn’t mean they aren’t affected by this time of the year though. Just remember that employee morale at this time of the year will also be affected by how you treat the holiday season.

No matter what your choice for holiday decorations (or avoiding them all together), be true to your beliefs. If Christmas is a religious holiday for you, feel free to display a manger. If you are Jewish, don’t be afraid to display that or share that with your customers. This time of the year is all about being genuine. If you stay true to whom you are and what your business is, that will come across to your customers and leave you and your business happy, healthy and thriving this holiday season.

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on writing business advice pieces for a variety of sites. ChamberofCommerce.com is the most trusted online resource for all your business needs.

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Seven Expert Social PR Guides and Tips

Wednesday, December 26th, 2012

Public relations (PR) or media relations has long been treated as its own world, separate from marketing. It was viewed as being about name recognition and industry credibility, not something as mundane as lead generation.

Best Guides to Social PRBut as the world has shifted from marketing brochures and printed trade publications to everything online, the connections between PR and marketing have become more apparent; that white paper may be a lead generation asset, but it can also be used to pitch a bylined article. An online ad may be marketing, but the credibility built through PR makes prospective buyers more likely to click on it. A news release may be designed to get media coverage, but it can also create valuable backlinks for SEO.

In the online realm, PR, search engine optimization (SEO), social, advertising and marcom are all vital and intertwined elements of web presence optimization, and as such need to be measured and managed to coordinate efforts for maximum online visibility.

So how exactly does PR support SEO efforts? How can media relations skills be leveraged in social media? What do PR pros need to do differently to support online journalism? What are today’s best practices for B2B PR?

Find the answers to those questions and more here in seven recent expert guides to social and online PR.

8 Steps to Leveraging PR for SEO by iMedia Connection

Krista LaRiviereNoting that news releases incorporate three elements that search engines love—trusted backlinks, social sharing, and fresh content—Krista LaRiviere provides a brief but helpful eight-step guide to improving rank and traffic to optimized content through the proper use of news releases.

7 secrets of a master digital storyteller by Get in Front Communications

Susan_YoungSusan Young explains the concept of brand journalism, which “allows your company to tell its own story in an engaging way that we’ve never experienced before,” then reveals seven “secrets” of master brand storytellers such as “a master storyteller weaves images, video, audio, graphics, and other social tools to make stories pop and impact people.”

Why PR Should Take Social Media Seriously by jeffbullas.com

Jeff BullasAfter advising PR professionals to take social media seriously due to its believability, efficiency and leverage, Jeff Bullas outlines eight major social media channels and contrasts their level of influence with the waning reach of old media. He ends with a discussion of PR values of new media, including Twitter, where “you are able to listen and to respond to what people are saying about your brand in the market place within seconds with worldwide reach.”

10 Simple Strategies To Boost Your B2B PR Campaign by Marx Communications

Wendy MarxWendy Marx offers 10 tips for amplifying hard-earned media coverage, such as promoting your press in your blog, spreading the word via social media, linking to your news from appropriate LinkedIn groups, and “Rework(ing) an article to function as an abstract for a speaking proposal.”

PR Pros Not Keeping Up with What Journalists Want by Spin Sucks

Gini DietrichGini Dietrich reports on recent research showing that “Eighty percent of journalists you’re working with in your media relations efforts want images and nearly that many also want video,” yet among PR professionals, “only four percent (believe images are) important to journalists and just a little more than half (56 percent) routinely add images to their media relations efforts.” And even among Fortune 500 firms, “Only 24 percent of the company sites offer images and 22 percent offer videos.”

Best Practices In B2B PR by Fast Company

Brian KardonWendy Marx interviews Brian Kardon, CMO at Lattice Engines and formerly with Eloqua and Forrester Research, about PR and its integration with B2B marketing, social media and lead generation efforts. Among Brian’s recommendations are that B2B companies should partner with their outside PR and marketing agencies (“get to know them as people”) and should “Be generous to your influencers. Give them credit. Compliment them. Never shill for your company or products. Be helpful and genuine.”

12 Perspectives on How B2B SEO Can Better Support PR & Communications by Search Engine Watch

Derek EdmondDerek Edmond shares guidance from a dozen PR experts including Stacey Acevero (it’s “essential for B2B PR, marketing and communications teams to have a concrete understanding of SEO elements – it results in a much more harmonious process”) and Elizabeth Sosnow (“You may not be a Sherlock Holmes fan, but you probably know that he couldn’t make it very far without his loyal wingman, Watson. B2B PR folks really need SEOs to help them solve mysteries for their clients”).

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Christmas, Sandy Hook, and a Small Plea to Add Light to the World

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

In just a few days, we’ll be celebrating Christmas, the feast commemorating the birth of the man who taught all who would listen, “Above all things have intense and unfailing love for one another.”

Less than a week ago, 26 people were brutally gunned down by a man so narcissistic and depraved he felt his internal pain justified inflicting terror and death upon the innocent.

Add a Little Light This ChristmasThe juxtaposition of perfect goodness and unspeakable evil is jarring.

It leaves us all with a host of questions. We watch the news, think of the families who lost precious little lives, and want to do something, anything, to help alleviate that pain. Yet there is little, really, that any of us can do directly.

But here’s a thought: in this time of darkness in what should be a season of light: do something—one little extra thing—to illuminate the season.

Give an extra donation to the Salvation Army. Donate a few more items to Toys for Tots. Buy a poinsettia plant and deliver it, personally, to an elderly neighbor who may not get a lot of company. Remember a solider serving overseas. Call your local food shelf and offer to help load or unload donated food items.

It may not seem like much, or even a completely original thought, but if enough people do it, it adds up to something. It’s a little more light in the darkness.

Evil is, sadly, eternal. It can never be completely defeated or eliminated. But as long as there is goodness in our hearts, minds and actions, it will never prevail.

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17 Tragically Common Copywriting Mistakes to Avoid

Monday, December 17th, 2012

With more than 80% of b2b and high-value consumer purchasing decisions now starting with online research, content marketing is hot. Consider:

Buyers want content. According to J-P De Clerck, “87% of surveyed buyers look for advice before buying a product, service or solution. The first source when doing so: Web searches. With 71% of respondents who look for information, searches are by far the main source of information. Search and content are by definition very integrated.”

Marketers are producing more content. Recent research from MarketingProfs found:

  • • On average, B2B content marketers are spending 33% of their marketing budgets on content marketing, up from 26% last year.
  • • 54% plan to increase content marketing spending next year.
  • • All content tactics are being used more frequently than they were last year, with the use of research reports, videos, and mobile content having increased the most.

Content is replacing advertising. Writing in Forbes, Michael Brenner explains how content (which buyers seek out) is more valuable than advertising (which many buyers ignore or even try to avoid): “Great content and engaging stories help your company’s content get found and get shared. When great content is shared, commented on or liked, it is no longer your content alone. It is their content. And user-generated content is trusted more than advertising or promotion.”

As content proliferates, standing out becomes more difficult. It requires originality, deep understanding of customer needs and motivations, and the cultivation of a network to share and amplify it. But most fundamentally, it has to flow well,  to follow the basic rules of spelling, punctuation and grammar.

Faced with an overwhelming array of choices, buyers first prune their lists of any obvious “no” options. Vendors can be excluded out of hand for many possible reasons: their prices are too high, they lack expertise in the buyer’s industry, their products are missing critical features, or…their content is sloppy. It’s similar to a human resources manager reviewing a hundred resumes for a single open position: those with spelling, punctuation or grammatical errors get tossed in the first review cycle.

How to Write Good - Amusing but HelpfulThough marketing content can come in a wide variety of forms—text, video, podcasts, infographics, animation—virtually all content starts with writing. Poor writing leads to ineffective content; content that doesn’t get shared, doesn’t get ranked, doesn’t get (widely) read, and doesn’t compel action.

So, the basis of producing interesting, shareable, actionable content is solid writing. To help make your content “must read” rather than “just toss,” avoid these xx unfortunate, grating and all-too-common writing mistakes.

1. “A lot of.” Granted, there are times when it’s okay to use this phrase (and a lot of people would agree with that), but in general, it’s abused. Avoid unless it’s really the best fit in context. It’s informal and imprecise, e.g., “a lot of marketers are embracing content marketing.” That’s true, but not helpful. Is 100 “a lot” of marketers? Is 72%? Or better yet, 72% of b2b marketers in small to midsized companies?

2. “Things.” Ugh. This is bad—rarely do we write about “things.” Features, attributes, concepts, attitudes, perspectives, capabilities, options, topics, specifications, qualities, and benefits yes, but “things” no. This is particularly awful when combined with #1 above. Which is better? “A lot of things make XYZ software stand out” or “Several unique features make XYZ software stand out.”

3. “Good.” Double ugh. This is one of the most overused words in the English language, despite a wealth of superior and more precise synonyms. A “good” meal may be delicious, tasty, scrumptious, satisfying, delightful, lip-smacking, or even extraordinary. A “good” writer may be brilliant, skilled, creative, original, capable, expert, talented, accomplished, prodigious, adroit, adept, widely published, often-quoted…you get the idea.

4. Misuse of “over” vs. “more than.” This one is somewhat subjective and tricky, but one general rule of thumb is to use “more than” before numbers and “over” before units, e.g., “We got more than 12 inches of snow” but “we got over a foot of snow.” Grammar Girl does an excellent job of describing the subtleties in this word choice:

“The AP Stylebook encourages you to look at your particular sentence and then pick whichever phrase sounds best…You always want to evaluate your phrasing for each specific sentence you’re writing…The AP guide suggests that ‘She is over 30′ sounds better than ‘She is more than 30.’ The AP’s second example is ‘Their salaries went up more than $20 a week.’ I do think it would sound odd to say ‘Their salaries went up over $20 a week.’ I would definitely pick ‘more than’ in that sentence. If you choose to agree with the majority of the style pros and use more than and over interchangeably, always read over your work and make sure the phrase you’ve chosen sounds right in your particular sentence…There’s ‘more than one opinion’ about this. I do think it would have sounded odd if I’d said, ‘There’s over one opinion.’ Don’t you agree?”

5. Misuse of hard / difficult / challenging. As the Oxford English Dictionary makes clear, as with “over” and “more than” above, the use of “hard,” “difficult” and “challenging” is subjective and depends to a degree upon author preference and which word sounds best in a given context. There are no hard and fast rules (though one would never speak of “difficult and fast” or “challenging and fast” rules).

Generally, “hard” is used with physical actions (e.g., “it’s hard to move a pile of rocks by hand”), “difficult” implies trickiness (“maneuvering a large boat through a narrow waterway is difficult”) and “challenging” is used in intellectual and sporting situations (“it’s challenging to out-coach Bill Belichick”). Ultimately though, this word choice requires judgment; it can be hard, difficult or challenging to select the right word at times.

6. Misuse or non-use of adjectives. Too often, writers skip needed adjectives or use fluffy, pointless descriptors in place of meaningful words. “XYZ provides the best service in the industry” is an example of both sins. First, “best” in this case is worthless puffery. Now, if XYZ won a Best Customer Service award from a recognized organization, then by all means, let people know! Otherwise, skip the self aggrandizement.

Second, the sentence above begs the question: the best what service? Dental service? Excavation service? Software implementation service? Prospective customers actually search for phrases like those, so including the most specific adjective is essential for search optimization. But no visitor worth attracting ever searches for “the best service.”

7. Incorrect subject/verb agreement. Skilled writers knows what this means. See the problem?

8. Improper use of single vs. double quotation marks. “Quotes are always set within double quotation marks.” Single quotation marks are used only for quotes within quotes, e.g., as Chris Smith wrote, “in my interview with Pat Jones, Pat insisted ‘Capable writers understand the proper use of quotation marks.’ I think that’s true.”

9. Mistaking your vs. you’re. This is elementary English, yet it’s disturbing how often the wrong term is used in place of the other. “Your” is possessive, “you’re” is a contraction for “you are.” You’re going to look like an idiot if your writing includes this mistake.

10. Improper hyphenation. Hyphenation is another practice that’s not that difficult but nevertheless often done wrong. Hyphenate terms when using them as adjectives (“she’s attending a high-level meeting”) but not when using them at nouns (“he is performing at a high level”).

11. Mixing first-, second-, and third-person voice. No writer should mix voices, writing from different perspectives within one piece. We don’t often use first-person voice on this blog. You should be consistent in your writing.

12. Using passive vs active voice. Is it improper for one to employ the passive voice, needlessly adding words to a sentence? Yes, so use the active voice.

13. Incorrectly spelling out (or not spelling out) numbers. Spell out numbers less than 10 (one, two,  three) but use numerals for larger numbers (39, 139, 1,339, etc.).

14. Getting “you and me” vs. “you and I” wrong. This is another area of common confusion that should be easy. When in doubt,  leave out the “you” and then see whether “I” or “me” fits the sentence. “You and I should go to the park” is correct because “I should go to the park” is correct. “She sent it to you and me” is right because otherwise she would have sent it to me, not sent it to I.

15. Improper use of “who” vs. “whom.” So many people find this situation so confusing that the use of “whom” is rapidly disappearing. Shame though, as it’s a perfectly fine word, and the rules for using “whom” vs. “who” are in general no more complex than those for the proper use of “you and me” versus “you and I” above.

In this case, determine whether the sentence in question would make more sense using he/she versus him/her. For example, “To whom should I mail this?” (I should mail it to him.) “Who will sign for the package?” (She will sign for it.)

16. The unnecessary use of “that.” Unnecessary “that”—let me assure you that we don’t make this mistake. Necessary “that”—we don’t use this word improperly because that would be annoying.

17. Repetitive word usage. Consider the following two examples:

Facebook is on a roll. Facebook now has more than one billion users. It’s hard to imagine any competitor overtaking Facebook.

Facebook is on a roll. The world’s largest social network now has more than one billion users. It’s hard to imagine any competitor overtaking Mark Zuckerberg’s creation.

Synonyms are a writer’s (and reader’s) friend. Use them. Sometimes it requires a bit of creativity, other times it’s as simple as checking thesaurus.com, which should be a prominent bookmark in every writer’s browser.

Proper writing alone won’t win every battle for business or search engine rank, but shoddy, sloppily produced clients will often guarantee a loss. Avoiding the sometimes simple but too-common mistakes above is a baseline for content marketing success.

For an expanded and far more amusing list of common writing mistakes to avoid, check out How to Write Good. Among their words of wisdom:

  • • Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors.
  • • If you reread your work, you can find on rereading a great deal of repetition can be by rereading and editing.
  • • And always be sure to finish what

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24 of the Best Google+ Guides, Tips, Rants and Raves of 2012

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

Will Google+ be a “Facebook killer” or just Google’s next failed social network? It’s certainly gaining traction, with over 500 million users now on board, already half of Facebook’s total. Then again, the average Facebook user spends nearly seven hours per month on the site—compared to just three minutes for the average Google+user.

Best Google+ Guides, Tips and Rants of 2012Many of this year’s best posts about Google’s newest social platform were written early in the year. Since then, though the user base has continued to grow, enthusiasm seems to have waned. While Marty Weintraub offers a more provocative metaphor below, it almost seems like Google+ is becoming the colonoscopy of social networks: everyone agrees it’s vitally important, but few people really want to talk about it or spend any more time on it than absolutely necessary.

“Ghost town” or not, many experts agree that Google+ is here to stay, and it’s valuable for b2b marketing, SEO, personal branding, and reputation management. So what makes Google+ special? What are the best practices for business use of the platform? How can an individual or organization most efficiently grow a following there? And will Google+ end Facebook’s domination of social networking—or will it “break the Internet”?

Find those answers and more here in two dozen of the best Google+ guides, tips, rants and raves of the past year.

Google+ Guides and Tips

5 Things Google+ Offers Brands That Facebook Doesn’t by Sprout Insights

Susan GuneliusSusan Gunelius outlines five social networking features unique to Google+, including circles (which enable you to “separate your customers from your colleagues and online influencers from your business partners”) and hangouts (which can be “used for things like small-group webinars, question and answer sessions, and more”).

Why brands will lose if they ignore Google+ by iMedia Connection

Though he calls Google+ a “half-baked invention,” Daniel Flamberg nevertheless advises that “savvy marketers should use Google+ these five ways,” including experimenting with hangouts, expanding social assets and audiences, and optimizing branded search: “Link owned digital assets to Google+. Use the +1 and encourage your followers to do the same. Plant +1 badges on all your assets to take advantage of the Direct Connect tool that automatically brings customers and prospects searching in your category to your page.”

6 Steps to Getting Started With Google+ by Social Media Examiner

Marc PitmanFor marketers who are either still on the fence about Google+ or just haven’t done much with it, Marc Pitman provides an excellent guide to the basics like filling up your links “While you’re editing your ‘about’ page, be sure to pay attention to the ‘other profiles’ section…(consider adding) links to other social media networks, links to your business sites (and) links to special pages on your website.”

The First 5 Things You Should Do With Your Google+ Business Page by WindMill Networking

Mark TraphagenOnce you’ve finished with Marc Pitman’s post above, Mark Traphagen presents a five-step process for taking your business presence on Google+ to the next level, starting with 1 four-item list on optimizing your page for SEO followed by upgraded the visual appearance of your page and filling your stream with quality content.

3 reasons Google+ is not a social network by iMedia Connection

Lauren FriedmanLauren Friedman explains why she thinks Google+ is not a social network but brands should be there anyway–for example, for SEO purposes: “The best way brands can take advantage of Google+ is to amp-up their SEO. Each time a user clicks the +1 button, it helps with that brand’s SEO and the content getting served to users above other content. Search results are personalized based on the +1s of those in your circles, and as a marketer, that changes the game. Search results are still based on Google’s proprietary algorithms, but sites with more +1s will appear to be more relevant and thus ranked higher.”

3 Successful Google+ Pages and Why They Work by Social Media Examiner

Lisa PeytonLisa Peyton highlights three examples of successful Google+ brand pages such as the NASA page, where “The active space and science community on Google+ may support speculation that platform users are mostly tech-savvy early adopters. This finding contradicts the fact that the TOP Google+ profile belongs to pop star Britney spears. However, her page garners less engagement based upon the number of followers than the top brands outlined in this article.”

Google+ for SEO? Don’t Focus on Your Brand Page! by B2B Digital Marketing

Eric WittlakeContradicting popular wisdom, Eric Wittlake argues that “Google+ Brand Pages are not the ticket to SEO success. In fact, if you focus your Google+ efforts on your new brand page, you will miss the most important search benefits of Google+.” He then outline three strategies he says are designed to improve search rank and traffic.

6 Reasons Why Adding Google+ to Your Web Presence & SEO Strategy is a Good Idea by iMedia Connection

Krista LaRiviereKrista LaRiviere of web presence optimization software vendor gShift Labs offers six reasons for brands to embrace Google+, among them fresh content (“Google+ is just one more place to publish your press releases, blogs, testimonials, case studies and news. The difference with Google+ is that your content, if found, will be listed at the top of Google personal results mixed in with traditional search results”) and the fact that Google+ produces social signals which factor into Google’s ranking algorithm.

32 Totally Free Google “Search Plus Your World” #SEO Resources by aimClear Blog
***** 5 STARS

Marty WeintraubFrequent best-of honoree Marty Weintraub compares Google+ to a dominatrix (it makes sense the way he writes it), offering short-term pleasure (search rank improvement) at the expense of long-term frustration. Still, he thinks it’s worth the effort to chase the temporary bump and so shares an excellent list of nearly three dozen how-to articles from writers like Lisa Barone, Matt McGee and Stephanie Cain.

Reputation Management: How Google+ Can Be Your Best Friend or Your Worst Enemy by Business2Community

Danny DeMicheleContending that “PageRank, Google’s ranking scoring system, is profoundly impacted by these (Google +1) votes,” Danny DeMichele provides a simple four-step process for using Google+ as part of a broader reputation (personal or brand) strategy.

20 Google+ Terms and Definitions You Need to Know by Sprout Insights

Susan Gunelius (again) presents helpful definitions of basic (e.g., “Chat: Using the Chat feature, you can notify people in your Google+ Circles that you’re online and available for an online chat from within Google+”) and advanced Google+ terms (such as “Data Liberation: Use this feature to download and backup the content in your Google+ Account, which is available through the Google+ Settings option [the gear icon in the upper-right corner of your screen when you’re logged into your Google+ account”]).

How Google’s +1 Button Affects SEO by Mashable

Keith KaplanKeith Kaplan explains that although “The +1 has an indirect effect on your site’s search rank. This does not mean the more +1’s a link has, the higher rank it achieves in traditional search results,” it can indirectly help with SEO by making a piece of content more likely to be clicked on and shared on other social networks—which does actually affect rank.

How to Effectively Create a Google+ Following of 10,000 Engaged Fans by Search Engine Watch

Eric SiuEric Siu shares advice from Fraser Cain, publisher of the Universe Today space and astronomy news website, on how to build, maintain and engage a large following on Google+. Eric contends that Fraser’s success, based on unique content and active network, belies the notion promoted by some (such as Austin Carr, below) that Google+ is a “ghost town.”

Build Your Google Plus Page Following with Topical Pages by WindMill Networking
***** 5 STARS

This tip from guest blogger Mark Traphagen (again) is almost too good to share. “What if you could create opt-in subscription lists on Google+? You can! Here’s the wonderful secret: you can create a Google+ page about virtually anything, including a topic. It doesn’t necessarily have to be connected with a brand name.” He then details a “simple strategy for using Pages to create opt-in subscription lists about specific topics.”

Quick Tricks to Make Your Google Plus Business Page Sparkle by ZD Design Blog

Donnie BryantAgain arguing against the “Google+ is a ghost town” thesis, Donnie Bryant here provides a handful of helpful tips for getting more performance out of a Google+ business page, from creating a short URL and maximizing the use of photos and video to encouraging sharing.

The Marketer’s Guide to Google Plus by KISSmetrics

Zach BulygoZach Bulygo offers a highly detailed and richly illustrated guide to marketing on Google+, from the basics of business page setup and getting a verified name to optimizing your tagline, use of photos. Google+ author tag and the +1 sharing button.

How to Use Google Plus for Personal Branding and Establishing Author Rank by WindMill Networking

Neal SchafferNeal Schaffer quotes Mark Traphagen (one last time), who calls Google+ a “powerhouse” because of its “tight integration into Google search. Google+ posts are easily indexed by Google search, and unlike tweets or Facebook posts, are treated much like regular web pages. That means a well-constructed G+ post (with a main keyword in the first sentence/title and a good amount of engagement) can rank well in Google search and, unlike other social media status posts, actually stay ranked for a long time,” and explains why Google authorship is important and how to set it up.

Google+ Rants and Raves

Google+ Is Going To Mess Up The Internet by ReadWrite

Jon MitchellJon Mitchell is not a fan of Google’s latest social network and isn’t afraid to say so. He writes, “Google tools used to enhance the Internet. But as Google ships ‘the Google part’ of its new Google+ identity, it’s breaking the Web it once helped build,” and then offers half a dozen specific reasons why.

“Don’t Be Evil” Tool — Backed By Facebook & Twitter — Shows Google’s “Search Plus Your World” Can Go Beyond Google+ by Search Engine Land

Danny SullivanDanny Sullivan details the use and results from the “Don’t be Evil” browser bookmarklet, stating that “The companies behind the tool feel Google’s hasn’t focused on what’s best for its users with Search Plus Your World. They have a good point. But the tool makes this point better than all the debates that have happened so far around Search Plus Your Word, because it shows what Google could have done to better serve searchers, if it had wanted to.” He also explains how some features of Google+ are part of the problem.

How Google+ Is Encircling Your Brand by MediaPost

Though he believes “Google+ is emerging as a great way for brands to connect directly with consumers,” Gavin O’Malley also notes that a disproportionate share of interaction is driven by a few aggressive, early adopting brands on the platform, and points out “Google+ still has less than 1/100th the number of total consumers interacting with the top 100 brands that Facebook has achieved.”

Exclusive: New Google+ Study Reveals Minimal Social Activity, Weak User Engagement by Fast Company

Austin CarrAustin Carr reports on the findings of a study which paints “very poor picture of the search giant’s social network–a picture of waning interest, weak user engagement, and minimal social activity.” Among te research findings from RJ Metrics, “Roughly 30% of users who make a public post never make a second one” and “Even after making five public posts, there is a 15% chance that a user will not post publicly again.” The author concludes that Google+ “might indeed just be a ‘virtual ghost town,’ as some have argued.”

Think You Don’t Need Google+ in Your Business? Think Again! by Rebekah Radice

Rebekah RadiceWhile acknowledging that Google+ has its shortcomings and that many marketers remain (not entirely unreasonably) skeptical about the platform, Rebekah Radice nevertheless offers half a dozen reasons to embrace Google’s social network, such as the circles and hangouts features and the B2B networking value.

With Google+ Communities, Google launches its own version of Facebook Groups by VentureBeat

Tom CheredarTom Cheredar explains how Google+ Communities work and how this capability compares with Facebook groups: “There are a few notable (notable differences between Google+ Communities and Facebook Groups), including the ability to start a Google Hangout video chat with the community and sharing things specifically with G+ communities from any +1 button. That’s pretty cool, and something that might actually attract people to use it over Facebook.”

Google+ becomes the world’s social platform…with Community by Relevanza

Steve HartWriting that “While Google announced Google+ reached 500 million users, the bigger announcement by far was the roll out of Google+ Communities,” Steve Hart explains what Communities are, how they work, what they can be used for, and why they are “a BFD.”

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