Google+ Local replaces Google Places – Businesses forced to engage

Earlier this month, Google officially closed the doors on Google Places, replacing it with Google+ Local, bringing all local search results and business location pages into Google+, forcing brands to engage with the social network.

Over 80 million Google Place pages worldwide have been automatically converted into Google+ Local pages, with the goal of merging all business listings into one single entity used across the Google product network, including maps, search, social and mobile.

The launch is a significant step in Google’s crusade to reshape the web, intertwining all of their products under the Google+ umbrella, creating a much more social web.

Google+ has been relatively overshadowed by Facebook’s IPO in the media recently, and with reports of Google+ usage slipping becoming commonplace, the public perception of the search giant’s social network has not been the strongest.

However, the company’s social media strategy remains a key focus for Google’s CEO Larry Page, who little over a week into taking over the reins back in November 2011, took the move to directly link the annual bonuses of over 25 per cent of Google employees to the success or failure of their social products.

Making locations social

Google+ Local is a very social product in itself, influencing a user’s search results by taking into account the places the user’s contacts, friends, family members and colleagues have visited and reviewed.

Users will also be able to share opinions and upload photos. These reviews and photos will help the user’s friends when they’re checking out a place online, and are also integrated into the aggregate score that other people see around the world. No longer tucked away deep in the Google Maps listings, reviews are now brought to the user in a single platform.

With many brands already having a presence on Google+, the next phase will be to integrate the brand’s Google+ Local listings and reviews with the Google+ brand page, creating a single experience for the user, and a single Google listing for the brand that will exist across the majority of Google products.

Google Jen Fitzpatrick, VP Engineering at Google announced in a blog post on Wednesday that Google will “soon extend these social experiences to more local Google+ pages in the weeks and months ahead”, but provided several examples of how this will look for brands in the near future.

Online reviews have had a significant effect on consumer behaviour in the past few years, particularly for businesses like restaurants, shops and brands with retail presences. With Google+, rather than reviews being ‘siloed’ on separate forums or review sites, they’re now centralised around the brand’s primary listing on Google, which will inevitably be seen by a much larger group of consumers.

Social and search

It’s worth noting that the tie in with Google products will not just affect reviews and brand pages, but in the near future the places your friends visit are likely to influence a user’s search rankings too. Therefore businesses not looking to maximise their Google+ presence stand to lose out to local competitors with a stronger focus on the platform, both in terms of online traffic and in-store footfall.

Without a strong branded presence on Google+, businesses stand the risk of their brand message being overshadowed by reviews and customer comments, which if negative is certainly not a good thing. Without a branded presence on Google+, business listings will exist at the mercy of the reviewer.

This overlap of Google products will undoubtedly twist the arms of businesses in the near future, forcing them to engage with Google+ in order to continue to perform well across the search platform. Do not bet on Google+ failing to become a significant online marketing pillar for businesses in the next few years.

 

Pippa Middleton’s bum is worth £200bn

The social media oligarch and founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg opened up f8 (Facebook’s annual developers’ conference) with the announcement that, on one day last week over 500 million people were logged into Facebook.

Add to that all the people who may have had something better to do that day, and you have more than 800 million ‘active’ users. Putting that in perspective, that’s the population of Europe. You can start to see where their $80 billion valuation is coming from.

In contrast, an estimated 2 billion people tuned in to watch the royal wedding earlier this year. Two billion. That’s one third of the world’s population tuning in to watch Pippa Middleton’s arse. Four times that of Facebook.

Therefore, I’m putting a value on Miss Middleton’s backside. A crude calculation based on very little I agree, however it’s estimated that 2 billion people have access to the internet in the world, and I’m of the belief that news of the royal wedding could have reached even those without access to the World Wide Web. So for Coca-Cola to slap their logo on Kate’s little sister’s rear end, she should have put a value at least quadruple that of Facebook. Her bum reached more viewers than the internet!

Hence, in terms of grossly overestimated advertising value, I’m arguing that Pippa Middleton’s arse is worth at least 4 times that of Facebook, $320bn, or just over £200bn.

Try insuring that one J-Lo…

Why I’m unplugging on social media day

Mashable has deemed the 30th June to be Social Media Day – “A day to celebrate the revolution of media becoming social”. It’s the second year of the annual occasion, but this year, I won’t be partaking in the celebrations.

Don’t get me wrong. Social media has undoubtedly changed our lives, and for the most part, for the better. We’re able to communicate with friends easier. Share photos without sending monumental zip files over email. Interact with brands on a more humane level – there are a thousand and one benefits.

However, it has come at a price, and this goes for the internet too. The problem is our inability to unplug.

Connecting online is something we do almost unconsciously now. I pull out my phone to check in somewhere, to take a photo, to edit, upload and share that photo, to tweet, to check links friends are sharing. The list goes on, and it all happens without thinking about it.

I’m regularly advising clients on how to use social media more efficiently in the workplace, and at work, I’ve become militaristic on organising my time on social platforms. Working in an agency, and even more so, freelancing for six months, taught me that very quickly. Being so plugged in can be a huge detriment to productivity if not managed right, hence I strongly recommend any client of ours to have a social media policy in place (contact me if you’d like us to help with yours).

However, it all seems to fall apart once I leave the office. I get sloppy, and browsing becomes lazy. The commute home is led by a check on Twitter, Facebook, and then another check after dinner, and last night I even found myself on Facebook in bed. I idly browse through friends photos, uploading some of my own, check on the progress of some of my client’s pages. It doesn’t really stop.

I’m addicted, which I guess is partly why I do what I do. But tomorrow, I won’t be celebrating social media day. I won’t be tweeting. I won’t be on Facebook. I won’t check LinkedIn, and I won’t be blogging. I won’t surf. I won’t browse. I won’t poke.

This social media day, I’m going to be unplugging, and I’ve scheduled this post. Besides, the 30th of June is my fiancée’s birthday, and I’m taking the day off to go hot air ballooning.

 

Ok, so I might tweet a photo…

Hot air baloon fail

(this post was written and published at Receptional.com on the 29th June 2011)

Employee productivity and your social media policy

(Blog post originally published at Receptional.com)

The words “Social Media” bring to mind disaster and lazy employees to many a CEOs mind, and often justifiably so. According to a survey from harmon.ie, 53% of employees are wasting at least one hour a day on distractions at work such as social media, text messaging and other applications.

Not only are there huge losses in productivity, but also there is the associated risk of the employee endangering the brand or company itself – hence why many organisations are resorting to banning access to Facebook and Twitter entirely in the workplace. Because of which, social networks have been given a bad name in the board room – unjustifiably so.

Social networks present brands and organisations with a whole new way to interact with customers, and a fresh and constant view of their marketplace. Not to mention that all the “Generation-Y” employees entering the marketplace now are using technology and interacting with each other in very different ways, and numerous studies have shown that breaks in the working day can help improve productivity.

The solution is simple:

Organisations need to have a social media policy in place to govern how employees use social networks in the workplace

Our consultants at Receptional have a wealth of experience developing social media policies for organisations such as PR agencies, right through to global technology companies – both in cases where social media marketing activities need to be focused and productive, as well as where employees need to have their time spent tagging their Facebook photos kept to a reasonable amount!

We can also help with tailored guides for how to utilise social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to gain the most out of them for your industry.

Give us a call, or email me (bjordan@receptional.com) if you want to know more about how we can help your business and employees become more productive.

Facebook isn’t shrinking, it’s still growing

Contrary to a recent report from Inside Facebook, it would appear that the ever consuming blob that is Facebook is still growing.

Inside Facebook recorded a 6 million user drop in the US over May – potentially a huge drop, and at first glance it was pointing out that cracks were starting to appear in Facebook’s blitzkrieg to 1 billion global users.

However, Facebook have brushed aside the report, saying the user base in the US actually grew by 21 per cent in May – a bit of a difference there…

“From time to time, we see stories about Facebook losing users in some regions. Some of these reports use data extracted from our advertising tool, which provides broad estimates on the reach of Facebook ads and isn’t designed to be a source for tracking the overall growth of Facebook,” Facebook said in a statement.

It seems there’s no stopping the world’s largest social network becoming even bigger. Even Steve McQueen isn’t going to be able to help us out with this one…

Facebook is stealing the talent

This cool infographic from Top Prospect Data Labs shows Facebook seem to be winning the war between the big tech companies for the best young talent out there. They do have very cool offices after all…

Via stateofsearch.com

Facebook justifies places

In an unusual move for Facebook, they’ve released this glossy video making the case for their new location based service – Facebook Places. I’ll save you time though, if you watched Apple’s Facetime pitch, you dont need to watch this. Just replace every mention of Facetime with Places, and switch mentions of iPhone with Facebook. It’s all the same “will improve humanity as a whole” speech… you get the gist…

New Tory poster campaign a stroke of viral genius?

This week saw the launch of the Conservative’s latest nationwide campaign, seemingly aimed at reaching out to those who have never voted Tory before.

Along with the usual YouTube videos, leaflets, tweets, etc, there are also three accompanying posters.

The Tories’ last poster campaign, you know, the one sporting a rather smoothly airbrushed David Cameron, looking more like Morph then a regular human being, didn’t take long for the blogosphere to say something about it.

Doctored versions of the poster started springing up everywhere, from Facebook to websites such as mydavidcameron.com, which even uploaded blank templates for people to edit as they saw fit.

And it only took a few hours Monday morning for exactly the same thing to happen again:

If the Tories had replaced their entire poster campaign from the previous in order to stem the effort non-conservatives were going to with parodying their messages as The Independent had reported, they failed. Before lunchtime #ivenevervotedtory was trending worldwide on Twitter:

  • #ivenevervotedtory because actually I think Gordon and Alistair have done a great job … mwahahahaha
  • #ivenevervotedtory because that New Labour, New Danger ad campaign still gives me nightmares
  • #ivenevervotedtory because I believe in genuine co-operative values not made up twaddle
  • #ivenevervotedtory because of their position on Europe. Oh and because they remind me of all the stuck-up braying arses I was at uni with!
  • #ivenevervotedtory because Phil Collins will come back if I do
  • #ivenevervotedtory because they are home to homophobic bigots and promote an unequal society
  • #ivenevervotedtory because Jim Davidson does. And you don’t want to be associated with that c**t

By mid week, the ‘I’ve never voted Tory but’ poster parodies had made pretty good coverage, both online, and nationally. They had spread across all manner of social networks and news sites, from Facebook to New Statesman. Seemingly a fail for the Conservatives, and a win for the Government. However, was this exactly what the Conservatives wanted to happen? (Cue evil genious laugh)

As Paul Owen wrote in his blog over at the Guardian, the new posters practically beg to be altered. The slogans are set out on big blue oblongs, making them so simple to edit my 5 year old cousin could manage it, and that half sentence; “I’ve never voted Tory, but” pleads for defacement louder than a whitewash wall in the middle of Hackney.

The defacement of the posters helped elevate public interest in the original campaign to levels well above what our political apathy often allows for, and at far lesser cost. Plus, by the end of Monday, #ivenevervotedlabour had replaced #ivenevervotedtory, which was no longer trending:

  • #ivenevervotedlabour because ultimately they run out of other people's money
  • #ivenevervotedlabour and never will because the bastards have stolen my hard earned pension
  • #ivenevervotedlabour because they are a bunch of joyless self righteous authoritarians who want to dictate how we all lead our lives
  • #ivenevervotedlabour because their policies are designed to keep poor people poor
  • #ivenevervotedlabour because ALL Labour Governments run out of our money in the end
  • #ivenevervotedlabour Because quantitative easing is the economics policy of Mugabe

The Tory tweeters had come out in force, in their Uggs and Jack Wills, probably sitting in the Sloaney Pony in Parsons Green, tweeting furiously on their iPhones.

If anything, the tweets from both sides provided a lot of public opinion, more so than you’d expect to get from spending thousands on focus groups.

As the dust slowly starts to settle and the posters continue to bounce through peoples’ inboxes, you’ve got to ask, was this a stroke of viral marketing genius?