Google+ Launches Brand Pages

GoogleplusThe big news today is that Google+ has finally announced their long-awaited brand pages with a blog post here. The top line, from Google:

For businesses and brands, Google+ pages help you connect with the customers and fans who love you. Not only can they recommend you with a +1, or add you to a circle to listen long-term. They can actually spend time with your team, face-to-face-to-face. All you need to do is start sharing, and you'll soon find the super fans and loyal customers that want to say hello.

A number of pages are already available (see below), but any organization will soon be able to join the community.

A few good examples of brand pages can be found here: Examples of Google+ brand pages

While the overall brand page implementation is new, it is still imperative to secure your organization's presence on the Google+ platform, if nothing else to prevent others from infringing on your organization's brand. The brand signup page is located here: (Do note that Google is incrementally letting new brands onto the system, so it may take a short time before your'e able to successfully log in and secure your organization's name.)

For a deeper dive, here are the differences between individual profiles on Google+ and Google + brand pages:

Steve Jobs Tribute in Bloomberg Businessweek Magazine

Normally, Businessweek comes on Friday. For some reason this week, the magazine showed up today instead. I didn’t think much of it when I walked out to the driveway, actually. There it was, folded up in its weatherproof bag, just like usual.

I brought it inside and opened it up, and saw that they featured a tribute to Steve Jobs on the cover. It was spare and gorgeously typeset, with nothing but the title of the magazine, the iconic photo of the salt-and-pepper Jobs, and “Steve JobsĀ 1955-2011.” (link)

Photo 5

I opened up the magazine and started to flip through it, and was immediately engrossed. The first sixteen pages were a slideshow of moments from Jobs’ life juxtaposed with individuals engaging with Apple products, and engaging in life. All of these were overlaid with quotes of his, some familar, some new.

Photo 4

As I went through the issue, I honestly was pulled further and further into the stories and the images, and was completely enthralled. I shared it with Lisa, who was similarly taken in. Other than the photos and stories of Jobs’ life, there was nothing else between the covers.

Photo 6

I can’t clearly articulate how well done, how beautiful, the work is that was done in this magazine. I’ve honestly never seen anything like it. Yes, it says it’s the “October 10 – October 16” edition of a weekly magazine, but it feels much more like coffee table book, a biography, a memorial. A tribute.

Then I realized something…Jobs passed away on Wednesday, and this issue showed up overnight between Friday and Saturday, meaning that they must have scrambled mightily, stopped the presses on the issue they had planned, and delivered it within 48 hours.

There was one more thing.

I flipped back through the magazine, going from cover to cover to make sure I hadn’t missed something. I went back and looked at every page, and my suspicion was confirmed.

There was not a single ad in the issue. Not on a cover, not on a flap, not on a page, not even a classified. Not only did they scrap (or at least defer) everything in the issue they were planning on running, but they did it in the classiest way possible.

Phenomenal job, Businessweek team. Really, really well done.



Google+ for Customer and Brands: Scenario Planning Summary [video]

On August 18, 2011, a group including Tom Guarriello, Matthew Mahoney, Tim Bursch, Sean Bohan, Jeris JC Miller, Nancy White and Christopher Carfi held a Google+ Hangout to discuss different scenarios that were enabled by Google+’s announcement that it was working on capabilities for brands within G+, from both customer and brand points-of-view. The setup for the conversation is here:

The overall conversation was 60min in length, and this video is the summary and wrapup of the conversation, about four minutes in total.


Interesting note: With Google+ Hangouts, while images look “correct” to others on the hangout, local video is mirrored. That is, left is right and right is left. As such, the whiteboard in this video is flip-flopped. If you go to, you can see the layout of the grid in a non-flipped manner.

Google+ Scenario Planning for Customers and Brands

What: Google+ Scenario Planning for Customers and Brands
When: Thursday, August 18th, 10am PDT / 1pm EDT
Where: Via Google+ Hangout (
Who: Anyone interested in actively participating
How: Just show up at the URL noted above with your strategy cap on
Host: +Christopher Carfi, VP Social Business Strategy, Ant's Eye View
Cost: Your engaged participation*

(If you're interested in participating, please leave a comment at

Google+ is adding users at a remarkable rate. A recent estimate from Cnet pegged the Google+ population at over 25 million and growing at an estimated 1 million users a day. And where there are users, there will be brands that want to connect with them.

Some brands such as Mashable and Ford jumped on the service almost immediately, leading to a confusing period where Google asked brands not to participate yet, as it was "designed for people, not for brands." Google has now stated that they are working on offerings for brands, but neither an official launch date nor details of what these brand-friendly aspects of the service will be have been made public. (Some brands, such as +Ford Motor Company, now have "test accounts," however.)

This leaves both customers and brands in a quandary. Especially on the brand side, the reward for smart decision-making and first-mover advantage can be huge. But what to do? And when?

Strategic thinking in environments containing a high degree of uncertainty can be done; there are tools in the toolbox for exactly this type of situation. One particular tactic I've found useful when dealing with uncertainty of this sort is scenario planning. There are many different implementations of scenario planning; the one I use is a modified version of the one described here and originally pioneered by Peter Schwartz at GBN. Here's one that I did for the Vendor Relationship Management (VRM) space in 2006-07; it seems to be holding up pretty well:

On Thursday, August 18th, let's have a Google+ Hangout in order to do "Google+ Scenario Planning for Customers and Brands." 

So, I think the two big questions for this scenario are the following:

Q1: Will the tools that Google provides be more aligned with customers, or with brands?
Q2: Will Google be mainly trying to enable interactions with billion dollar brands or SMBs?

This gives us a landscape that looks like the framework below.


What we'll do during the conversation is attempt to paint a picture of what the world would look like if we pulled the scenario out to each of the corners of this model, and create a template that can help to guide our decision-making.

It's important to note that we are explicitly NOT trying to "predict the future" using this technique. Instead, what we are trying to do is understand the forces that are at work in this scenario, and create a set of guidelines that can aid in our decision making if and when we see any one, or more, of these scenarios coming to fruition.

I hope you'll join me in this experiment. See you on Thursday right here.

UPDATE 8/24/11: Thanks to everyone who participated in this conversation! Summary video of the session is now live here: Google+ for Customers and Brands: Scenario Planning Summary  

My Google+ vs. Twitter Click-Through Experiment

I was fortunate enough to luck into a few Spotify invitations earlier today, so I decided to try a little experiment in checking out click-through rates on Google+ vs. Twitter. I put similar offers up on Twitter and Google+ at the same time (7:38am PDT on a Thursday), and checked to see what drove traffic over to the blog. (I turned off comments on the Google+ offer, so folks could only go to the blog and to not split the sample.)

Twitter Offer

Screen shot 2011-07-28 at 7.12.33 PM

 Google+ Offer

Screen shot 2011-07-28 at 7.14.41 PM
To give a little more context, here are the relative sizes of those two groups. Not exacty the same size, but close:

  • Twitter: 5,352 followers
  • Google+: 4,010 people have me in Circles

I then grabbed my referrer data to that post on the blog over the period of a few hours after these both went up.

Over that time, I had about 60 clicks recorded in the logs. I was surprised to find the raw number of click-throughs from Google+ was about 4x what it was from Twitter, even though the followship was a little smaller. (There's also a big group with "no referrer," that could have come from clients or other sources.)

Number of click throughs, by source

So, it's a small sample size, but it's still notable, I think. I'll be interested to see what kinds of experiences others have as they try similar experiments. Thoughts?

Update: Tac Anderson notes in the comments that "you can pretty much count 90% of those no referrer directly to Twitter clients." So, if that's the case, we're at about parity on the click-through rate between Twitter and Google+, with Twitter being slightly higher in aggregate between the traffic explictly attributed to Twitter and adding in the 'no referrer' traffic that likely came from Twitter clients.

Three Spotify Invites Available

Screen shot 2011-07-28 at 7.32.50 AM

I received three Spotify invites. If you'd like one, leave a comment with your email addy. First three get them.

Disclosure: I'm not being compensated or anything like that

Disclosure 2: I really do love the service; it's replaced the iPod feature on my iPhone home page.



Flexible ‘Paperphone’ Created – (cool, and perhaps overly complex) [video]


I love this…and I think we're going to get to "gesture fatigue" pretty quickly here. We all had to learn a whole bunch of new things when smartphones (and the iPhone in particular) came out … "pinch-to-zoom" and the like. And now OS X Lion is introducing a whole new set of gesture-based interface items. Now on the horizon are "bending" gestures and such.

Link: Thin-film flexible 'paperphone' created

Ok, it all looked cool in the movies when Tom Cruise did this kind of stuff the first time. And it does make new capabilities easily accessible, if you know all the gestures. So, what about you…does this Cambrian explosion of interface capabilities make things easier for you to interact with your devices, and the world? Or does it make things overly complex?

How the Enterprise Can Use Google+

For the past few days, I've been neck-deep in Google+. There's a lot of potential here for business. Some thoughts, by enterprise function.

Google-plus-icons-620x348 There's going to be plenty of punditry by the social media echo chamber over the coming days and weeks that will mirror the things we saw regarding Facebook ca. 2007-2009 or so. The summary: the same folks who are doing things to promote their schtick using Facebook will do the same thing on Google+. There will be brand pages and the like, someone will figure out how to do contests, there will be a host of activity metrics ("how many people have added your brand to their Circles?") and the like. While this area is going to get the most noise out of the gate, this is _not_ where the value is going to be found.

Demand Generation / Leadgen
Here things start to get interesting. Google Analytics already has brilliant tools for tracking things from "first interaction" all the way through the time someone engages in a transaction. That's the state of the art today. With tweaks in a couple of directions, G+ and Analytics start to get very compelling. First off, being able to track posts and their resulting activities in G+ and have those show up in Google Analytics is a no-brainer. Secondly, this starts to really be a graceful foray toward the enterprise side of Social CRM. Today, an organization's lead generation metrics might stop at "conversions," where a prospect turns into a customer. With an integration between G+ and Analytics, however, that historical funnel (which oftentimes ends at the transaction) can actually turn into a way to understand the long-term interactions with an individual, all the way from first contact (she +1'd a post or left a comment), through a host of conversations over days, weeks or months, through a transaction, and then *beyond* into ongoing conversations that take place _after_ the transaction. There's a lot of potential here.

If you're an HR pro, especially on the recruiting side, the opportunity to set up Circles is a means to connect up with the individuals with whom you'd like to develop a closer relationship is a great opportunity. If you have a number of open positions, you could even set up a Circle for each one, and, as you identify potential candidates for each position, include those individuals in the appropriate Circles as a means by which to start to get to know them better.

Design and Innovation
This is a place where I think Sparks may come in to play, as well as Circles. If there are topics of interest that may spark (see what I did there?) expanded thinking in an area, setting up a Spark for that topic to get an evergreen feed of ideas and inspiration. More tactically, you can set up as wide or as targeted a group of counselors/advisors/folks-to-bounce-ideas-off-of as needed that contains folks from both within and outside the organization. Then, when you have a few candidate ideas to solve a design problem, share the options with that Circle to get feedback.

This one is a no-brainer. Set up a Circle with your customers and prospective customers and partners in it. Call it "Customers." Check it at least once a day to keep a true pulse of when the individuals who are most important to you are saying. Engage in conversations.

General internal collaboration
I think this is going to be a killer app for the organizations that have the foresight to use G+ in this way. Set up a Circle that just contains the members of your team, or (depending on organization size) perhaps your entire organization. Keep a Hangout open for that Circle for serendipity. Share items and links of _internal_ value that you've found externally with that Circle. 

Additionally, you can always choose to _only_ share a post with a single individual, as well as easily fire up a chat session. In this mode, G+ becomes a very viable means of setting up an IM session between members of the organization.

Bottom line
I think there's a lot here for the enterprise beyond social media marketing. So what did I miss? How else might enterprises use the G+ capabilities as they progress further along the social engagement journey?

UPDATE (7/5/11):

Two related posts:

GigaOm: Why Google+ Could Find A Home in the Workplace

Forbes: GooglePlus, Consumerization of IT, and Crossing The Chasm For Enterprise Social Business