Google+ Pages: A guide for businesses

Now that Google+ Pages have been live for over a week and there’s a lot less noise amongst the digerati, it’s time for a short guide for businesses.

Google+ Pages: an overview

After a couple of months with Google+ ope only for individuals, last Monday Google+ Pages were introduced for businesses and brands, helping them to connect with their customers and fans, whether recommending a page with a +1 button or using the concept of circles for targeted messages for groups of customers.

Google+ is now available to all brands with Pages that can share publicly and connect with more than 40 million users (Source: Google Q3 Earnings call).

What’s new in Google+?

One of the more immediate and distinct features for businesses are Hangouts (here’s an funny one with the Muppets), a realtime video chat that was previously available only to individual users, and promises to be a great tool for customer service.

Direct Connect (video above) is another feature that shows how serious Google is about Google+, allowing a brand with a Page to take advantage of Google Search distribution, by quickly navigating from search results to a brand’s Page using the + prefix, prompting autocompletion.

Currently Direct Connect is assumed algorithmically, by picking up authenticity signals, but a brand can speed up the process by placing a Google+ badgeicon or rich snippet on the brand’s website and making sure the brand’s URL is on the Google+ Page profile.

If you’re a local business, there’s a couple of additional fields that will help your company to be found, integrating with Google Places and Google Maps.

From small and medium businesses to bands, media companies or global brands, the new Google+ service is going beyond the traditional social network, extending the Google experience, making tribute to their name Google+.

Are my customers on Google+?

With over 500 million people using Google’s services, if they’re not, they will. Despite all the naysayers that expect one more big social fail by Google, this is a platform play. Again: it’s more than a social network, it Google PLUS. The Google experience evolved. You can no longer escape from noticing the dark grey bar on all Google’s verticals, and reaching a critical mass is around around the corner (expect 100 million users before the year ends).

What you probably should be concerned is: how can my brand be meaningful in Google+?
You can start by educating your newly found Google+ customers, something that the Official Google+ Page for business is doing right on their photostrip.

If you pay close attention to the area highlighted in red above, that’s a Google+ page with a designated administrator (multiple admins are coming in the near future), so you can also start thinking about who will you add as public spokesperson for the page. I for once would welcome the transparency of, unlike Facebook pages, actually knowing who is behind the brand presence.

Start experiment with Google+ features and find out what works best with your fans, something that seasoned Facebook community managers do often. The discussion generated by regular Google+ users is more insightful and rewarding for community managers than what’s to be found on Facebook, mostly due to the early adopter fan base that the service has now.

One rather interesting feature of Google+ Pages is that you can actually add people to Page Circles once people mention you Page or add it to their circles. This is a great way to target your updates, form sub-groups or even do multivariate testing. The only problem is to actually build your circles from the start, as big audiences will become a nightmare to segment and circles are limited currently to 5000 people. Take care of being to pushy, as when someone uncircles your page, they’re also removed from your Page created circles.

One last thing regarding your customers: promotions, coupons and deals are prohibited, a welcomed change from Facebook, where brands build the wrong kind of audiences using these tactics. And it’s not confirmed yet if ads will be present in the future on Google + Pages and Profiles.

Should I create a Google+ Page for my business?

You should at least secure the presence and establish a coherent branding with other channels (namely Facebook). I spoke recently about brandjacking for the BBC , as misappropriation of brand pages by cybersquatters can happen quite frequently. Reserving the presence and reassuring your fans that it is an official presence should be a preemptive measure while you figure out what to do next.

When deciding to advance to a more structured and continuous presence, you should evaluate this new channel according to your overall business strategy. Lead generation is probably the most affected metric, considering how Direct Connect and +1 buttons will influence SERPs. Make no mistake about it: if you have a substantial traffic coming from search, buckle up as the new search algorithm changes kick in. Google has always been about collective intelligence, and having vibrant communities on Google+ Pages will only do good for leading brands by attracting even more organic traffic. With Google Search Side Ads disappearing, the space is prone to be filled or influenced by +1 signals.

What about branding and creative?

Hold your horses,as Google+ Pages are quite limited, design wise.
The top photostrip is currently the main spotlight for brands trying to make themselves noted, with a few ones worth checking out:

Creating the images for the scrapbook is rather easy, you just need to slice 5 consecutive images of 125×125 pizels.

The square profile picture can also be explored, considering it alternates between the two most recent profile photos. Try uploading 2 profile pictures and click on them afterwards, to see what happens. Here’s the +Page  for this blog, and me peckabooing on the backside :).

On the right sidebar you can also add recommended links, but I wouldn’t mess around too much with those, as it might confuse your users. But having a comprehensive list of your main web presences won’t hurt you.

Also of notice is the fact that Pages can share animated GIFs on their timeline (check the Burrberry scrapbook). If individuals users had their share of memes before businesses entering Google+, it’s about time the brands do their share of +culture now 🙂

Adapting some Facebook tactics such as posting images, open questions or asking people to +1 should work fine with brands also.

A few things missing

Google+ Page currently doesn’t provide pretty permalinks / vanity URLs, with Google using only canonical permalinks, with the  format[yourpageID] – find out [yourpageID] by clicking on the Get Started button on the left menu.

Moderation features are limited, with single administrator (no roles), the ability to remove comments and no word filters.

Also, the metrics available are quite limited, with only a few analytics picked up with Webmaster Tools or integrating Social on Google Analytics. And you know it sucks changing tools instead of showing data in context (hint: Facebook per post insights). Hopefully this will change in the coming weeks, along with better API integration.

What’s next?

From sharing your new presence on Google+ Pages on your other channels, to adjusting editorial calendars (please, don’t just syndicate), it’s still early to find definitive best practices. Having a record for great social media practices will help you set apart in these first few weeks, so make the most of it while you can. As user base grows, it will become increasingly harder to get noticed.

If you want fo find out more about Google+ for businesses, there’s a webminar tomorrow or watch to AdTech’s talk by Christian Oestlien if you’re in a hurry.

If you know any more tips to add here, drop a note in the comments.

Think Insights with Google

Google is on a roll this week, after finally launching Google+ Pages for brands (more on this from me this week) they’re now releasing the new resource rich Think Insights on their marketing focused platform, Think With Google.

It’s one trove of stats, case studies, featured reports, marketing insights and quick shortcuts for brands working in interactive marketing. Not less impressive, is their renewed concern on aesthetics, arranging all this information on a well designed website and attention to detail. You should know better that eye-candy still matters to marketeers, and keeping with their mission statement, information is not only universally accessible and useful, but also beautiful.

For planners out there, have a look at the Real-Time Insights Finder. The only thing to regret is that many of the studies and research are pre-2011. As much as it hurts me to say, they should step up their game regarding Facebook, that is becoming more agressive with marketing bootcamps offering up to $125 in Facebook Coupons or awarding campaigns on Facebook Studio. Let the fight for attention (and ad budgets) continue.

The Socrates of San Francisco

One of the best ways to empower ou creativity is to stand on the shoulder of giants. From David Ogilvy to Hegarty there’s plenty to choose from.

Yet, there’s one an advertising agency founder that has been forgotten, that 50 years ago was already discussing issues like sustainability or escort bayan interconnectivity. Oh, and he also brought to San Francisco an obscure canadian academic named Marshall McLuhan.

The giant i’m writing about is Howard Luck Gossage. A critic but also reformer of the advertising industry, his thoughts are remarkably modern and fit to our interactive age:

“The real fact of the matter is that nobody reads ads. People read what interests them. Sometimes it’s an ad.”

“Our first duty is not to the old sales curve, it is to the audience.”

“Copywriters are very strange people who have only reached copywriting after eliminating every other means of making a living through writing”

“If you have something pertinent to say, you neither have to say it to very many people –only to those who you think will be interested–nor do you have to say it very often. How many times do you have to be told that your house is on fire?”

“First, what is the difference between seeing an ad on a billboard and seeing an ad in a magazine? The answer, in a word, is permission

“To explain responsibility to advertising men is like trying to convince an eight-year-old that sexual intercourse is more fun than a chocolate ice cream cone.”

To revive  the thoughts of this great ad man, young british director Ashley Pollak has launched a crowdfunding effort to make a documentary about his life. Donate at and get your perks suchs as being one of the first to appear in the credits or your own private screening session. And it’s cheaper than his book on Amazon.

“In which a guy clearly does not set out to change the world, but does so, then denies he ever did, and has a whole bunch of people over for drinks who will all go on to become famous and miss him for the rest of their lives” – Jeff Goodby

SoDA 2011 Digital Marketing Outlook

A great job from the Society Of Digital Agencies.

The 2011 Digital Marketing Outlook (DMO) study, conducted by SoDA and its research partner, AnswerLab, revealed significant information regarding budgets, hiring strategies and what marketers value the most. For example the study discovered that 80% of marketers plan to increase the volume of digital projects in 2011 with 43% planning to decrease traditional paid media investments

Source: SoDa blog

The Emperor’s New group bought Clothes

The Emperor’s New group bought Clothes …

if a business is hoping to lure in existing customers that it already ‘owns’ the relationship with, why should it discount its services by upwards of 50%, give half of the resulting revenue to Groupon, and let Groupon take most of the credit for the exchange? Why not simply sell such a deal themselves and keep everything?

In my opinion, answering this reveals two inconvenient truths:

Some businesses recognize that group buying isn’t about new customer acquisition. They simply want a one-off spike in revenue, margins be damned.

Others are flying blind. They know group buying is the hot thing, but they have no idea how to use it strategically and the Groupons and LivingSocials of the world have no incentive to help them figure it out.

via Group buying and the new customer acquisition lie | Econsultancy.

Josh is The Human Avatar

Game marketing is usually one level up, and there’s a lot to learn there from those trying to capturing attention of consumers.
One campaign that has been making the rounds is APB: All Points Bulletin‘s take on The Human Avatar, a real-time experiment in identity and transformation.

During several stages, Josh, a fan chosen by APB’s online community, will subject himself to a extreme makeover: hair style, piercings, tattoos, and clothing, just as it would happen with the in-game avatar personalization tool.

With 3 stages left, the piercing episode was pretty hardcore but i’m curious about the tattoo 🙂 . Oh, and you can follow Josh’s hardships @human_avatar or check the pictures on Twitter.

I’m not much into games (time is precious) but as far as marketing is concerned, this does level up. Or are reality shows venturing into videogames?

It’s the Age Of Conversation !!!

For the past 3 years, dozens of leading marketeers, writers and thinkers have collaborated on a book that brings some of the best insights on modern marketing. Led by Drew McLellan and Gavin Heaton, this third book in the Age of Conversation series brings together authors from across the world, with diverse and practical insights for the changing nature of business today.

Chapters include topics like Conversational branding, Influence, Getting to work, Corporate conversations, Measurement, In the boardroom, Innovation and execution, Pitching social media and Identities (the topic I wrote a short essay for).

With cover illustration by Chris Wilson and our new publisher Channel V Books (from co-authors Gretel Going & Kate Fleming), i’m counting on you to order a copy once it’s released, specially considering the sales profits are donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Get to know the rest of the authors or follow the Twitter AOC3 list created by  Steve Ponder:

Can’t wait to read the great thinking from the “fellowship” !

From Beta to Branding

For many years Google was one of the last companies avoiding mass media advertising (though they’ve done it outside the US). That stronghold ended the last SuperBowl, with the now famous (and parodied) Parisian Love ad:

Even web companies with true fans reach a point when branding becomes necessary to grow a market that’s getting crowded. With many people starting to explore Google’s products and services, an ad that is relevant and tells a powerful story only helps to conquer more users, responding to needs that later get extended to their professional choices (think AdWords or Google Apps).

This need for branding for web companies will become even more evident the next few years, as startups try seduce advertisers by getting more reach and visibility. But instead of using the eyeballs approach, we’ll have a more combined branding approach.

Foursquare, the location based game, and their recent partnerships with Zagat or Marc Jacobs is an example of this sponsorship leveraging a web brand, . Other examples include ExecTweets with Federated Media and Microsoft or even more tactical approaches like the Let It Shine commercial for Honda and Vimeo.

Larger brands should take notice of these opportunities, by teaming up with web brands on relevant, win-win partnerships. As for web companies, Branding, even on a different form, is one step to leave their Beta label behind.