Google+ continues to intrigue me but my opinion changes as often as [insert any political candidate's name here] views on [insert political topic here].
With so much back and forth in my mind, I turned to Dave Gibson from Propeller Media Works for some insight. As a Google+ user and marketer heavily involved in the industry, I was interested to hear his take on the recent changes and future of the site.
Gregg: I’ve seen a lot of optimistic, supportive posts about G+. What is it that draws you in and sells G+ in your eyes?
Dave: First, I believe that the culture of the company is rooted in respect for the User. The User is the customer at Google – they know that their business would be ruined if users believed that organic search results were influenced by advertisers. In contrast, I think Facebook sees the User as the product – a commodity which they sell to the advertiser. I don’t want to steer us into a G+ v Facebook conversation because ultimately there is plenty of room for the two to coexist. it just highlights what attracts me to Google and why I put a lot of faith in them. I think this culture expresses itself through respect for privacy, the quality of the user experience, and advertising that succeeds because of its relevancy – not its ability to distract .
Getting back to G+, on the surface what I like about this product is the design of the interface – its simple and visual. Photos are larger and video embeds easily. Its addictive to scroll and scroll and scroll.
Deeper in, I really love Circles, which make it so easy to segment who I listen to and who I broadcast to. I dig that I can post photos that only my friends should see, and then not bore them with my posts about geekery like this. Its like having Facebook and LinkedIn in one tool.
Gregg: Some are considering Google+ a “ghost town”, what’s your take on that?
Dave: Yeah, I declared G+ dead back in October. Then they opened it up to brands. Then they integrated it with gmail. Then they embedded it in their new mobile operating system. Then they rolled out Social Search. I ate my words and posted Why Google Plus Will Rock (http://www.propdave.com/index/2012/1/8/why-google-plus-will-rock.html) at the end of January. Its clear they’re putting all their muscle into this. Google knows this is a space they must be in, and given their resources and talent, they will nail it.
Gregg: Many people, including marketers, are comparing Google+ to Facebook while others say it’s not really apples to apples. Is Google+ a Facebook competitor? Why or why not?
Dave: It is of course from the perspectives of both users and advertisers – which is good. Without competition, companies get lazy and get distracted. They loose sight of customers.
Now its not just Facebook that is threatened here. Google poses a competitive threat to Twitter as well – more so perhaps. G+ allows for short micro blog posts – as well as long blog style posts on the same wall. G+ enables the same #hashtagging for grouping topics and adds the visuals of embedded photos or video in posts. Since anyone today with a Gmail or Google account is now also one simple click away from a G+ account, the fruit is pretty low for Google.
All said, I do think there is plenty of room for all to co-exist. I don’t think Google is going to knock out Facebook. If anyone is going to get wiped out, it will be Twitter.
I think what is important for resort marketers to know is that this is a channel with a ton of energy and resources behind it. Its going to just grow deeper soon. The opportunity is to get in
Gregg: So, in your opinion, what’s the best course of action right now for ski resorts that are using Google+ or are thinking about using it?
Dave:Get started now and tie it into your team’s social media routine. Resorts should be sure to use a neutral (non employee) Google account to setup their G+ Page, and then start filling it in with content. As soon as its ready, then add the G+ button to their other web properties.
While currently, G+ doesn’t integrate with content aggregators/publishers like Hootsuite (my fav), trust that will come soon to make the process more efficient.
Gregg: The new design just rolled out. Why do you think they made such a major overhaul and what does that mean for resorts using Facebook (if anything)?
Dave: Google has been redesigning all of their products this past year – so overall, we’re seeing a real focus on design from Google right now. I don’t think it will affect resorts using Facebook, but I think its quite telling to see this early redesign. More evidence of their focus on G+. I also think its interesting to really look at the design and consider what they didn’t add (versus what they did add). Note the healthy amount of whitespace and lack of clutter. I think it reflects an extension of the minimal ‘user-first’ ethos that drives their design (and why I dig it).
Gregg: In your mind, how much is Google+ about the benefit a resort gets from sharing content, and how much is about the fact that it’s part of Google and possible impacts on SEO or the future of things like direct connect?
Dave: The channel hasn’t reached critical mass so that content doesn’t reach as many people, but it may be that a room with less people is a room with less noise, so the content should have more of an opportunity to be consumed. Of course, the social SEO component is also a strong value for the short term. Hopefully soon we’ll see broadcasting tools like Hootsuite hook enable us to shoot the same content to both Facebook and G+.