Is Google+ Worth the Effort?

A client found a YouTube video extolling the virtues of Google+ for businesses. He wanted to know if he should invest time and energy in setting himself up on Google+.

The video he watched is long and the people in the video are supernaturally pleased with Google+  !    If you have 43 minutes, go for it…

The clip was posted on YouTube in 2013, and the predictions for the success of G+ were not accurate.  It is not the social media place to be, if you’re only going to do one spot.  The #1 place remains Facebook and there are many contenders that I think of as equal of G+ (LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.).

In fact, for the past 9 months I have heard rumors that Google is about to announce the end of G+ as we know it. I don’t know if they will kill G+… there really isn’t a need for them to admit failure.  But, G+ failed in its intention to take the dominant position in social media. So, posting to G+ just isn’t required social media marketing.

The video also touts the instant availability in Google searches of what you post to G+. Having your comments quickly available is great, but I have seen entries in this blog and changes to HTML pages show up the same day in Google.  So, using G+ doesn’t feel like an overwhelming advantage in becoming visible.

Benefits aside, the real issue in mounting a G+ presence is the cost. One of the commentators said that you should do 30 minutes of G+ before you start your business day and another 30 minutes at the end.  I wish I had that time for social media!  Do you want to invest in that much time?  30 minutes a week taxes a lot of business owners.

So, I don’t know whether investing in G+ is worth it for small businesses.  I am not saying no, but I suspect that there is a diminishing returns. Spending a lot of time creating content just for G+ doesn’t seem logical.  Instead, create a Google+ business page that puts you on the map. Then, include G+ in the list of social media sites you feed your comments to using Hootsuite or other posting app.

If you want to do more, them commit to a limited trial period of posting with a time budget.  After 30, 60, or 90 days, do you see any increase in rankings, sales, or even engagement with clients? Let me know if the extra effort got you enough business!

Google+ Wants to Use What You Post Forever

Guy Burns has done a quick, non-lawyer comparison between the supposedly evil Facebook’s and the supposedly “do no evil” Google’s social media policies.  It’s an extremely ugly comparison for Google.

From Guy’s public Google+ post:

Google’s rights to use your IP: perpetual and irrevocable
Facebook’s rights to use your IP: revokable (sort of)

Google+ Terms of Service, section 11.1
“You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. This license is for the sole purpose of enabling Google to display, distribute and promote the Services and may be revoked for certain Services as defined in the Additional Terms of those Services. 11.2 You agree that this license includes a right for Google to make such Content available to other companies, organizations or individuals with whom Google has relationships for the provision of syndicated services, and to use such Content in connection with the provision of those services.”

Facebook Terms of Service, section 2.1
“For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (“IP content”), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (“IP License”). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.

Google is dangerously overreaching, in my opinion.  They are asserting that they have the right to use whatever you post — apparently regardless of what limited circle of friends you initially limited your post to.  This means there is no privacy or security on ANY posts.

Not only can Google use what you write, photograph, or draw, they can adapt, modify, publicly display, etc., etc. your work for their benefit.  Forever.

This is not reasonable, by any stretch of the imagination.

I strongly advise writers, artists, photographers… anyone who produces anything creative, to refrain from posting it on Google+ unless/until Google+ modifies their Intellectual Property Term of Service.  (See section 11 and all of the Google+ terms online.)  I won’t be posting creative pieces nor photographs on Google+ myself while the current terms are in effect.

I also strongly advise people against posting anything to any Google+ circle that they don’t want their mother, their boss, or their future spouse to see.

With no circle privacy settings honored, something you wrote to a limited group of people, may be broadcast inappropriately.  When your mother is looking up dolls as gifts for the grandchildren, she can be confronted with a Google+ social networking ad that suggests she buy a “Blow Up Doll like Your Son Said He Likes.”  Won’t that be a fun discussion for you and mom to have?

Google+: Another Technology Time Sink

My mantra at the computer system integration company I worked at was, “Just because the technology exists, that doesn’t mean you need to use it.”

My comment was a variation of  bemoaning “a solution in search of a problem.”

Which brings me to Google+.

This afternoon I set up Google+ for [email protected]. I spent a very short time figuring out what I think I’m supposed to do. It was pretty straight-forward. Quickly I spiffed my profile, played with my circles [friends lists], and spewed an offering to my stream [news feed].

So far, my experience has been very Facebooky… except that there are not many people on Google+ (so there’s not much to read) and there isn’t a mechanism I see for business/personality fan pages.

Google+ Link gets a 404 ErrorThere is one nice feature that Facebook lacks, and that’s the ability to edit a posting that you’ve already made. And, I am hoping that Google’s search technology will let me search my own stream [“stream” still sounds dirty to my perverted Puritanical mind] for things I posted in the distant past. That’d be a big improvement over Facebook’s operation where the old material that you’ve written goes into the cosmic bit bucket.

Google+ also lets you include people in your stream messages who aren’t on their service. You can include anyone in one of your circles, whether or not they’re using Google+. If they are not members of the cult, Google+ will send them email with your stream entry. Unfortunately, this notification of non-Google+ people wasn’t working so well this afternoon. Google+ sent my test account an email with my posting, but the link to see more resulted in a 404 error code. Hmmmm!

But, back to my initial comments.

Do I need another social network technology to check and update? Do I want to spend more time keeping in touch? After Facebook and Twitter… and the corresponding accounts for my business clients… I think I may need more time to DO things instead of talking about what I’ve done.

Google Isn’t Cheating … It’s Beating The Competition

Bing is DownYesterday’s news was sprinkled with references to Federal anti-trust regulators looking into various aspects of Google’s business.

Some arm of some agency was looking into Google’s purchase of another software company while the Feds elsewhere were pondering the fairness of Google’s search results.

I was listening to the almost gloating radio news reports about Google’s woes as I was trying to help a couple clients gain visibility on the Internet.

I had no problem adding my clients to Google’s places and on Yelp.  But, as I was listening to moaning from Google’s competitors who suspect Google of improper market control, I was having my own problems with Google’s most formidable search competitor, Bing.

Adding the first client to Bing seemed to be going well.  I spent several minutes going through screens adding location details on this page, opening hours on another page, and service details and firm history on following pages. I uploaded a couple of photographs and was getting pretty happy about what my client’s Bing business listing was looking like.

Then I hit the submit button to post the entry.  I expected to be told that I would have to verify ownership through a phone call or other method of providing my rights to speak for the business.

Instead I received a message from Bing that they were sorry.  Their database was down for maintenance.  After letting me go from screen to screen entering my client’s saga, Bing wasn’t going to let me save and publish what I’d done.

I worked on Bing for a while longer, resubmitting my last page in the hopes that Bing would come back to life while my work still existed. No luck.  In fact, when I accessed Bing in other browser tabs, I discovered that in addition to the business database’s lifelessness, Bing’s search customization program was also down. The search customization screens also let you enter your preferences, but when you attempted to update your account, you were told that the page you were looking for was not available (see graphic, above).

Throughout the Bing FAIL, the news radio talkers would hype the headline of the Google’s Federal troubles.

I just wanted to scream at the radio.  It’s not Google’s fault that they are dominant in the marketplace. Their stuff works!

Google Instant Preview is Live!

Have you ever wanted a quick preview of a web site in Google’s results list? Just a glimpse before you clicked and committed yourself?

Google has just turned on its new instant preview tool that let’s you get your sneak peak. Beside every listing in web search results — including local listing results — Google has inserted a magnifying glass icon Magnifying Glass icon from Google.

When you click on the icon, Google will display the top of the page it’s pointing to. Here’s an example of the instant preview showing Ozdachs’ home page.

Google Preview of Ozdachs Web Site
Google Preview of Ozdachs Web Site

When you move your cursor through the results list, you’ll get previews of the pages under your cursor.

Nifty instant gratification, eh?

Of course, the preview feature increases the need for your home page to be attractive and informative.  You want people to want to see more!  We’ll also have to explore the effect instant preview will have on hit tracking.  Maybe there will be fewer people who “bounce” (go to just one page and leave) on your site.  Maybe your overall number of visitors will decrease because folks will decide not to explore your site when they see a preview.

Lots of questions, but this Google feature is just out the door.  So, for now, try it out in your browsing and see how you use it.  When you have a feel for the power of the instant preview you can talk intelligently to your web designer about any changes you may want to make to your site.