First Impressions of Google+ From A PR Perspective
As Clay Shirky once stated, information overload is not the problem, filter failure is. And Google+ is sure taking aim for that whole filter thing. Get this: You place your contacts in different groups. So when you share content online, only those who you wanted to see the information will potentially see it. Of course, they’re filtering their information as well. So, in a way, they must also choose to see your shared items.
Complex, huh? You just wait. You can still see what people have shared with you even though you yourself haven’t actively chosen to see their items, but you have to click yourself through to it. So, basically you can still see what people share if you visit their profile. Unless they’ve filtered their updates in terms of privacy.
Complex, huh? We’re not done yet. Anyone is pretty free to pull people into comments, huddles and hangouts, so one must give Google+ credit for having a lot of serendipitous qualities.
Basically you could say that you can exclude people so that you won’t annoy them with things that you believe they will find irrelevant, but if they are going after your shared items intentionally anyway, chances are they will find it. It’s like Google+ wants to stop push by enabling filters on steroids, but at the same time don’t stand in the way for pull.
Complex, huh? You can even go back to old shared items and reshare them with even more – or fewer – people in your network. So, after putting in a lot of hours in sorting out your network, you take a look at your feeds. But hey, what’s that? The shared items are not presented in chronological order. It seems like Google+ have it’s own internal ranking system within feeds, just like Facebook has its EdgeRank.
What kind of techy stuff can Google+ do with their feed ranking, then? Quite a lot, actually. For example, they could pull data from your Gmail Priority Inbox behavior in order to know what feed content to place at the top. Now, enter the Google+ button. If I as an online curator and content publisher get a lot of +1 clicks on my blog posts, not only will I draw traffic from within Google+ the same way I draw traffic from within Facebook with the Like button, my readers can also affect my posts’ search rankings by adding user interaction data to pretty much all my social objects.
So what do I think?
As an online curator and content publisher, I love it. As a PR professional I love the fact that push must be earned and pull is made easy. As for reporting on social media project results, Facebook wasn’t giving me much data on user interaction anyway, so if Google+ makes way for more public data, then I don’t mind.
The fine thing with Google+ is that you don’t have to have great many friends in order for it to be useful, especially if you’re smart about filters. Personally, I will be able to share my items from Google Reader only to those actually wants to see it without bothering those who don’t. In classic Google manner, the platform might be a very good place to find what you’re looking for and if you’re an excellent online curator or content producer, you’ll be rewarded.
But what about the guy who just want to publish a random thought and then get some serendipitous reactions from, well… anybody who is willing to listen? Then Facebook still has the upper hand. And that’s saying something, because this kind of usage must be considered the norm. Facebook is still a place to hang out while Google+ actually requires much more thought and even strategy.
My prediction is that Google+ might take a firm grasp on the knowledge sector in social media. People who whishes to find useful information, participate in long and threaded discussions, people who have a professional interest in having their knowledge spread. Maybe this is what Google is aiming for initially?
It wouldn’t be a bad strategy. Instead of going for the full monty, they could concentrate on the professional and highly engaged audience on the internet. Because that’s were Facebook is weak in terms of functionality. If this is the case, we’ll see Google going after the corporate presences (i.e. Facebook Fan Pages) before making the service more suitable for the casual social media user.
In terms of finding ways to empower the Google AdSense model, this would make sense. Facebook Ads targets mainly demographical audiences, while pro heavy communities on Google+ might serve as more powerful exposure surfaces. A vibrant B2B IT community on Google+ will be far more interesting to be visible for than going for exposure on corporate- or interest based Facebook Pages or Groups.
If Google+ succeeds, the user data from the community might very well enhance Google Search considerably. Add Google Apps to the equation and we can conclude that Google at least tries their best at this social thing. The fact that Facebook via Burson-Marsteller recently tried to smear Google, and that rumors of Facebook’s decline appeared in a timely fashion, well I guess that’s the nasty side of PR for you.
And speaking of PR—what will the impact be for us PR folks? Well if search is going truly social, then you should probably fire any PR consultant who isn’t down with SEO. Because you won’t be able to rank high and get found without earning it with good PR and vice versa.
Our industry must also focus on visually appealing content (video, not infographics ok?) based on exceptional content, services and ideas. PR have always been about understanding how to get through filters through win-win. Same now, only less need for distribution but more need for influential endorsements and high quality content.
- Google’s Savvy Marketing Launch of Google+ (prbreakfastclub.com)
- How To Recreate Google+’s “Circles” in Facebook. (ianschafer.com)
- Google+ and the PR Game (pamil-visions.net)
- Tour of the New Google+ (with screenshots) and Invitation (thelimemagazine.wordpress.com)