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Google Mobile, Goodbye Desktop – Hello Mobile Ranking

As hoteliers, how often do you seriously consider the path guests take to find your hotel online?  Is it an easy path for them? One that quickly allows them to find what they need and ultimately book their stay? Does it differ depending on which devices they prefer?

Well if you haven’t considered this process, now is the time to do so. This month Google announced that they are changing how Google Search will function. Quite simply, in the world of ’Just Google it’, preference will soon be given to the mobile experience over the desktop one.

So what does this mean?  Right now Google ranks websites based on how your websites look on desktop and laptop computers, and then they rank your mobile websites.  As more users begin using mobile devices over traditional desktops to do online searches, the major search engine is now going to make mobile websites its primary focus for ranking.

Google G

For hoteliers big and small, why should we care? Well an article by eMarketer shows that over 52% of hotel reservations are being made on mobile websites in the year 2016, up nearly 44% just from this time last year! That means over half of your guests are booking their stays in your hotels on their phones and tablets instead of on a desktop or laptop computer. The simplicity and accessibility that mobile booking provides to travelers will only make these numbers increase faster and faster. So what should we do?

Here are a few helpful hints to be sure your mobile website is the best that it can be. How visually appealing and user friendly is your site when viewed on a smartphone? The easier it is to navigate for your guests, the higher you will rank! Hoteliers need to ensure that your mobile sites are free of broken links or unwieldy images that don’t properly translate from the desktop to mobile. The next thing to do is to make sure that your mobile and desktop pages are as similar as possible. Social Energizer uses only responsive design so that our mobile and desktop sites are the same by default. We “turn off” or substitute any images that do not display well on your mobile site to help keep your rating high and user experience at it’s optimum.

With Google switching the way that webpages are ranked, mobile websites need to be as similar to the desktop sites as possible to keep your rank high. Remember that Google likes links! Your desktop website should have links between your pages and links outside of your website to build credibility, and the same principle must occur on the mobile website!

At the end of the day the most important take away from the announcement made by Google is that hotel guests are using mobile devices to view and book at your hotels, they aren’t using computers like they were five or six years ago. Mobile websites are the new desktop websites, make sure your mobile website is navigable and easy to use, you never know, you might see an increase of heads in beds!

Information in this post was obtained by eMarketer, a credible ecommerce resource.

Google Trips – Organize Your Travel Easily

Google is continuously coming out with new technologies that make communication and organization easier and more convenient. Being organized and having a plan is vital to productivity in the workplace and when traveling, too. Enter Google Trips.

In mid September, Google launched a new travel app called Google Trips, which helps the everyday traveler and business professional alike when they are away from home. The app focuses on planning and organization, something that is right up my alley and something I needed to try.

I downloaded the app on my iPhone and it prompted me to sign in to my Gmail account. The next thing I know, a reservation popped up in my Google Trips app for an upcoming trip that I had planned. Google developed the new app to work with Gmail, taking any reservations from your inbox and putting them into your trip-planning app, pretty convenient and so easy to setup!

After downloading the app, I was playing around with the different tiles and instantly noticed what a great business opportunity was available for hoteliers and business establishments in towns big and small. The app is set up to plan activities for the area that you are visiting, taking any information from Google and incorporating it into your stay. For businesses that don’t understand the need to promote themselves through Google services like Google My Business this app is a great reason to get listed! Don’t have a Google My Business account? Check out our earlier blog, Independent Hotel and Resort Google Guide, on how and why you will want to set one up!

Just by being on Google, the app creates endless exposure for small and large businesses, here is an example.

After I checked in at the hotel and stopped at my room, I needed to find somewhere to eat. The only problem I had was that I hadn’t been to the area before and I wasn’t sure of what places were open or for that matter what was around me. I opened Google Trips and clicked on the food and drink tile to see what my options were. In just two seconds there were tons of places to go, all organized and categorized to make my search easier. Each recommendation has reviews and the hours of operGoogle Trips Mapation with a brief description of what you can expect for the environment and for the food.

I chose a local restaurant that I hadn’t heard of before to support local businesses instead of chains. While I waited for my meal, I picked out a café for coffee that next morning and I planned a few other restaurants that I wanted to visit before going home. The app allows you to “star” or save places that you enjoyed, or that you know you want to visit while on your trip. I added the café and a few restaurants to my saved places and then browsed around in the things to do tile.

In a matter of minutes, Google Trips provided me with tons of different local restaurants and café options. This was just one tile, the app allows you to look at local activities, shopping centers, small family owned and operated stores, you name it. Google Trips is just one benefit of promoting businesses on Google My Business. It will allow businesses to gain exposure and to increase traffic and business by bringing out of town guests to your establishment.

Rethink Your Guest Review Strategy

It’s time to think outside of the TripAdvisor box with Facebook, GooglePlus and Pinterest Reviews –and guest interaction on YOUR WEBSITE. Oh, we all know how important TA is –and its an easy review mechanism. BUT! Did you know that asking guests to leave a review on TripAdvisor is leaving your lodging property vulnerable? If you continue to keep all of your eggs in the TripAdvisor basket, you give them undue power, pay more and more each year, and are not capitalizing on the opportunities of social media. If you’re sending guests only to TripAdvisor for reviews, then it’s time to rethink your guest review strategy.

Start with your Website. Independent Resorts, Inns, B&B,s -you KNOW your guests, they know you. Begin a strategy that encourages interaction between your guests and yourself -using your property’s website as the platform. Build and reinforce their positive experiences from their stay. Build a greater nurturing experience for them, encourage future visits and bring them further into your fold.Sterling Ridge Resort Comments

You’ve done the hard part. Why let TripAdvisor control and benefit from that relationship? Over the years, they have trained lodging owners and managers to use and consider TripAdvisor, like it’s a benevolent service, but don’t be fooled; they are a FOR PROFIT company and a big one at that. Why are you sending your hard-earned relationships to them? Its time to involve your past guests online with your business and at a far higher, more personally rewarding level than can be done with TripAdvisor.

Create a strategy, similar to Sterling Ridge Resort in Vermont, that pulls guests into your fully owned online presence, your own website. Ask for comments about your guests’ stay that will be posted exclusively on your website. Ask them to write a guest blog of their vacation (or an activity, dinner, etc.) or email you a favorite photo from their trip. You’ll want to offer a couple of involvement levels and ‘assists’ depending on the degree your various guests will choose to be involved. Be sure to make a super easy, enticing option for those that might resist. Make it fun and run a campaign from time to time giving something away. Over time, this single tactic has the potential to provide the best return –no exceptions.

Google Plus

Google Plus is one of the most important places for guest reviews. Aside from the growing audience with Google+, its direct connection to your Google Local (Places) account is priceless for conversions and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) aka Getting Found on Google. Having reviews for guests to read will pull them closer to your webpage, where you can actually make the conversion commission free; sidestepping the “Book Now” buttons that are populated everywhere (including your Google Places/local account) that try to persuade people to book with the many OTAs. Oh you’re not on an OTA? Oops! Then they’re using your ‘juice’ to sell to these shoppers to your competition!

Facebook Reviews

Facebook Reviews

Recently, Facebook revamped how Guest Reviews appear on lodging pages. Here is a screenshot of it in action on Posada Yum Kin’s Facebook page. This seems much more directed and appealing than the ‘app’ they had before. It shows how Facebook is embracing the travel space with solid effort. Sure, they might not take over TripAdvisor, but their reviews WILL be valuable in converting fans to guests.

Pinterest

Though its not technically a review, a picture is still worth a thousand words. Do your guests have a Pinterest page? Ask them. Connect. Follow them. If they plan to share their travel pictures on a board, let them know you’re excited to repin their pics to your properties’ board. This is a natural exchange for Pinterest users and hits a great female demographic and leisure travel decision-makers.

There are many social media networks that are important for travel, general and travel-specific, but lodging professionals are a very busy group. My advice is to get the ones noted above under control and moving before you spread yourself too thinly. Always make sure your basecamp is secure!

Google takes on the OTAs- Expedia, Booking.com, Travelocity

Google takes on the OTAs and has decided to enter the OTA business directly through a licensing deal with Room 77. Room 77 is a OTA startup that currently has hotel listings located only in the US. Despite the money that is earned by Google from OTAs like Expedia, Booking.com and Travelocity, Google Inc (GOOG) is moving boldly to play a larger role in booking hotel rooms—at the risk of offending some of its most important advertisers.

Google is adding more photos and reviews to its hotel listings, so they increasingly resemble those of travel search sites such as Priceline Group Inc. (PCLN) Expedia Inc(EXPE) and TripAdvisor Inc. (TRIP). And it is more aggressively promoting its “hotel-price ads” that post room rates directly as travel-search sites do.

The idea is to encourage travelers to plan more of their trips directly on Google. In the process Google gets them closer to making a booking, which experts expect will make referrals more valuable, prompting travel agencies and hotel operators to pay more for clicks on Google ads over time. It also encourages more hotel operators to place ads on Google directly, bypassing online travel agencies that charge commissions of up to 25%.

In its latest move related to hotels, Google on Monday struck a licensing deal that will give it access to technology from hotel-booking software startup Room 77 while adding engineers to Google’s hotel-search team.

But the move is risky: Online travel agencies are among Google’s biggest advertisers. Priceline Group will spend more than $1.5 billion in 2014 on Google advertising and Expedia could spend another $1 billion, mainly to attract hotel bookings, estimates RBC Capital Markets analyst Mark Mahaney. Those two alone could account for nearly 5% of Google’s ad revenue this year, Mr. Mahaney estimates, even though the company has over a million advertising customers.

The hotel-price ads on Google are “a game changer,” said Erik Muñoz, an executive director at hotel-booking software company SiteMinder. He said Google’s new ads allow hotels to compete with online travel agencies for a direct booking, potentially driving down their costs.

“Any time you’re dealing with Google it pays to be careful and know what its long-term strategy is,” says Tom Botts, chief customer officer at Denihan Hospitality Group, which is testing the virtual tour at its Miami property.

The relationship between Google and online travel agencies can be even more tense. They fear Google’s moves to establish direct relationships with hotels, said one executive of Orbitz Worldwide Inc. (OWW) Expedia and TripAdvisor are members of FairSearch.org, an advocacy group that highlights what it sees as Google’s anticompetitive practice of promoting its own services in search results. Even so, they remain big spenders on Google advertising because of the valuable leads.
Read more at http://on.wsj.com/1e9KrQwGoogle Places

With continuous improvement of their ‘Google Places’ interface, Google has been developing their ‘hotel search’ offerings. Users searching for hotels will find virtual tours, reviews, ratings, directions, pricing and much more. With the integration of Room 77, they will be able to book directly with each hotel through the Google Search interface. This indeed is a game changer.

For independent hoteliers, a few questions come to mind. How much will their cut be? Expedia commissions are currently at 25% and Booking.com between 15-20%. Will the Google/Room77 pricing structure be the same or will they create a hybrid structure that includes advertising? How will they incorporate Google Adwords into the equation. Will it be an extention of their Adwords Express where advertisers can place an ad right from their Google Places account?

Finally, the moment many hoteliers have been waiting for… The end of the OTA. Or is it? It might not yet be time to do the happy dance. Not until we learn if it is a fresh approach possibly bringing hotel costs down and increasing actual bookings or just ‘more of the same’ albeit on a grander scale. Or possibly something more sinister? The important question is…  What will it mean for independent lodging owners?

Stay tuned… this is promising to be quite the ride. Whether it’s a fun ride or not, at least for independent lodging professionals, will be determined at a later date.

15 Trending Travel Terms

Moving your hotel to an automated, online integrated system is a big step.

Here are 15 Trending Travel Terms to help you with some of the new lingo.Reception

Property Management System (PMS)

The application used by the hotel to control onsite property activities such as check in/out, folios, guest profiles, room status, requests, etc. PMSs can have interfaces between other applications such as the hotel point-of-sale (POS) or central reservations system (CRS)

Central Reservation System (CRS)

The application used to manage a hotel’s distribution and hotel room bookings. Typically will be used to reach guests via multiple distribution channels such as travel agencies (via GDS), online travel agencies (such as Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity, Priceline and others), direct to the hotel website, and telephone (either via call center, direct to property or both).

GDS (Global Distribution System)

Reaches 300,000+ IATA registered travel agents powered by four networks: Sabre, Amadeus, Worldspan and Galileo. Agents use one of these systems to book airline, car, hotel and other travel arrangements for their customers. OTAs also use one or more GDS to power some or all of their content on their site. Partner hotels easily keep up-to-date GDS / ODD room inventory and rates, and any travel agent or online customer can retrieve real time rates and room inventory and book instantly via GDS and ODD networks. Alternatively, Pegasus ODD (Online Distribution Database) connects 100’s of Internet travel portals or OTA’s (online travel agents) such as Orbitz, TravelNow, Expedia, and Hotwire.

Online Travel Agencies (OTA)

Websites offering comprehensive travel shopping and Reservations Solutions to consumers. Examples include Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity, Priceline, and many local and regional sites.

Review Sites

A travel website that assists customers in gathering travel information, posting reviews and opinions of travel-related content and engaging in interactive travel forums.

TripAdvisor was an early adopter of user-generated content. The website services are free to users, who provide most of the content, and the website is supported by an advertising business model. Other popular review sites are IgoUgo,

Rate Parity

The strategy that all distribution channels of a hotel should reflect the same rate for the same conditions for a particular room type. Rate parity strengthens customer loyalty and encourages guests to book directly with the hotel where terms/policies may be more flexible, given the same pricing as in other channels.

Smart Hotel Website

A collection of well-designed web pages that communicate the essence of the hotel –online. Used as the focal point for guest information and holding the Web Booking Engine (WBE), it is the core of a hotel’s online presence. Smart websites pull in visitors through search engine marketing (SEO) that book directly with the hotel, potentially reducing commissions to OTAs and GDS channels.

Web Booking Engine (WBE)

An application residing on a hotel’s website, which allows prospective guests to shop for rooms and complete reservations.

Domain Name

A domain name is simply a website address, e.g. www.mycompany.com is a domain name. This is also sometimes called a URL.

Web Analytics

The process of analyzing visitor activity on a website. Web analytics also includes the measurement of metrics to determine site effectiveness.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)SEOProcess

The process of increasing the amount of visitors to website or page by ranking high in the search results of a search engine. The higher a Website ranks in the results of a search, the greater the chance that that site will be visited by a user. SEO helps to ensure that a site is accessible to a search engine and improves the chances that the site will be found by the search engine users.

Balanced Distribution Strategy

Determining when and through what channels to sell rooms based upon the cost of acquisition of the individual channel. By driving business to lower cost acquisition channels during high demand periods, hotels can maximize their profitability.

Occupancy

“Fill” measure of a hotel calculated by dividing the total number of rooms occupied by the total number of rooms available times 100, e.g. 75% occupancy.

ROI

Return On Investment is the measurement of costs minus income for a particular investment item.

Guest

The people who pay your salary. Your customer, the reason you do what you do.

DNS Changer Malware Alert

You may not know this, but while you were surfing the net you may have downloaded a piece of malware called DNS Changer. If so, then tomorrow you may not be able to log onto the Internet.

Here is an article from KVUE.com that explains why and how this happened quite well. Basically, there are some hackers that figured out a way to hijack those browsing the Internet. This malware changes the DNS settings in the infected computer. The FBI created some temporary servers to allow users time to safely remove the malware. As KVUE says, “time runs out on Monday, July 9. (There isn’t a planned attack this Monday that will shut down the Internet; those whose computers are already infected will lose the Band-Aid the FBI put on the problem more than a year ago.)”

How can you detect if your computer has been violated and infected with DNS Changer?

DCWG.org has an easy and effective way to see if your computer is infected with the DNS Changer virus. Simply go to the DCWG site and click on the link per the instructions.

An industry wide team has developed easy “are you infected” web sites.  They are a quick way to determine if you are infected with DNS Changer. Each site is designed for any normal computer user to browse to a link, follow the instructions, and see if they might be infected. Each site has instructions in their local languages on the next steps to clean up possible infections.

Word-Of-Mouth Marketing Online –Equals Healthy Sales

Small and medium-sized business owners, you know how vital it is to the health of your business that you make a great impression with all of your customers, who then, of course, tell their friends. Plain and simple that’s word-of-mouth advertising. Undeniably, it’s the best way of introducing your business to potential new customers and bringing in new sales. Customers as advocates, what could be better than that? Maybe multiplying that advantage? Take your word-of-mouth techniques online and you can do just that. Quite simply, you will then have created the essence of inbound marketing and social media dynamics. Big words, simple idea –word-of-mouth –brought online. Online, we call it building a community.

Taking aspects of your word-of-mouth marketing online can be relatively easy and can be gained steadily over time, just like your brick and mortar-earned client base.

'Word of Mouth' photo (c) 2007, Paull Young - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/The same rules prevail.

  1. Pay attention to what your customer is telling you,
  2. Know what they will tell others, and
  3. Always- appreciate their comments and their business.

Keep these guidelines in mind when putting your business… out there. Need some help sorting this all out?

Here are 5 easy tips to help you get started online.

Do your online networks work together and support each other?

You’ve chosen the online networks you want your business to network with: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and others. You’ve created a website –set it up to become your basecamp. Now, are they integrated? Is the “Like” button on your web page? Is your web address on your Facebook page? There is usually simple code to insert, or a plug-in to be added.

Can people find you? Remember- Location, location, location!

Where does your page rank? If you have a physical location, when people search for you, do Google maps appear? At the top of the page? And is the location correct? These are all things you can adjust yourself by going into Google maps, Yahoo maps, etc.

Time-management

Don’t let this defeat you! There is a lot of information to track.  BUT, there are some great little ‘helpers’ for social media management, tools like Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, and Ping.fm. These are free services that pride themselves on ease of use and allow you to track and update all your networks at once. Looking for something more robust? Depending on what you need, I have some ideas on that. Drop me an email.

Inbound marketing does not work best in a vacuum

Macy's QR Code imageAdd a little Outbound Marketing to your online mix. Integrating your brick and mortar word-of-mouth techniques with your online presence can be as easy as holding a drawing with business cards for a free meal or service. If you are sending postcards, have an offer on the card that pulls clients into your website for something like a contest, free reward or valuable info. Add these to your database for opt-in email marketing, find them on Facebook, or run a text campaign to their cell phones. Cutting edge promotions, most recently, have integrated QR codes into promotions, effectively making use of smartphone technology.

SEO, keywords and Links = Results

Keywords and link building are essential to building an online presence. One of the first things to do is to be sure you have the relevant keywords listed in your SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Do you have a business that you partner with? Ask them to link to your site and in return you should link to theirs. It’s powerful stuff for getting better search results and getting the Big Boys to notice (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.) your site.

There is a much more to bringing your successful word-of-mouth strategies online, but give me a call and we’ll chat about things you can do right away to advance your word-of-mouth presence and ensure healthy sales.

Social Energizer’s purpose is to help companies develop lasting relationships with their customers and increase their visibility online.

In addition to building dynamic and affordable websites, we integrate inbound marketing techniques into each business’ current marketing plan and utilize digital channels and strategies like Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Search Engine Optimization, and Web-integrated Email Campaigns.

Wisconsin’s Herb Kohl on Monopoly-Busting Google

This just in…
Herb Kohl’s office released this press release yesterday. Below are excerpts from his Opening Statement Of U.S. Senator Herb Kohl For The Of Hearing, “The Power Of Google: Serving Consumers Or Threatening Competition?”

Herb Kohls Senate Webpage image

“The basic premise of Google at its founding was that it would build an unbiased search engine — that consumers would see the most relevant search result first, and that the search results would not be influenced by the web page’s commercial relationship with Google. Its goal was to get the user off Google’s home page and on to the websites it lists as soon as possible. As Google’s co-founder and current CEO Larry Page said in 2004, “We want you to come to Google and quickly find what you want. Then we’re happy to send you to the other sites. In fact, that’s the point.”

However, as Internet search has become a major channel of e-commerce, Google has grown ever more dominant and powerful, and it appears its mission may have changed. For the last five years or so, Google has been on an acquisition binge, acquiring dozens of Internet-related businesses, culminating most recently with its proposed acquisitions of Motorola Mobility and Zagats. It now owns numerous Internet businesses, including in health, finance, travel, and product comparison. This has transformed Google from a mere search engine into a major Internet conglomerate. And these acquisitions raise a very fundamental question — is it possible for Google to be both an unbiased search engine and at the same time own a vast portfolio of web-based products and services? Does Google’s transformation create an inherent conflict of interest which threatens to stifle competition?

In the last few years, Internet businesses that compete with Google’s new products and services have complained that Google is now behaving in a way contrary to free and fair competition. They allege that Google is trying to leverage its dominance in Internet search into key areas of Internet commerce where it stands to capture from its competitors billions of dollars in advertising revenue. Rather than fairly presenting search results, these critics claim that Google has begun to subtlety bias its search results in favor of its own services. This conduct has the potential to substantially harm competition for commerce on the Internet, and retard innovation by companies that fear the market power of Google.

Antitrust scrutiny is not about picking winners and losers, but is about fostering a fully competitive environment so that consumers can fairly pick winners and losers. As more and more of our commerce moves to the Internet, it should be the highest priority of antitrust policymakers that the Internet remains a bastion of open and free competition as it has been since its founding. We need to protect the ability of the next Google to emerge, the next great website or application being developed in a garage in Silicon Valley or Madison, Wisconsin.”

I’m glad our legislators are looking into this subject. I’ve long thought that Google is the ‘new Walmart’, but I’ve been hesistant to say anything. (Google controls my SEO). As you know, I’m always on the side of small and medium-sized businesses. I think Mr. Kohl, once again, has taken the lead on a difficult, but timely subject. What do you think?

I Plus-one’d That Story, The New Verb

I’m predicting ‘plus one’ will become 2011’s new noun-to-verb crossover.  A few years ago, it was ‘I googled it’. Today, it’s +1 –as a verb. Pretty soon you’ll be hearing, “I read that and ‘plus one’d’ it.”

What is the new Google +1?

It is sort of like the Facebook ‘Like’ button, but with a few little Googly quirks. Instead of ‘Liking’ a page while you are browsing on that page, Google +1 allows you to tag it right from your browser window. It’s the old location, location, location again. Google seems to have just one-upped Facebook.Google Plus SocialEnergizer.com

Here is what a browser window looks like after you’ve joined Google+. It shows an enticing little ‘+1’ icon.

What will this mean? Will it be better?

Is your Google Plus One following you?

Besides being Google Plus’ new best friend, +1 is Google’s next step in perfecting their search algorithms. They’ve switched it up by having users direct the search engine in an interactive way. When a person is searching on a given set of search terms and chooses, say, the fifth page link instead of one on the first page, Google will ‘learn’ that someone thinks that the link on that page is more relevant. The long-term result will be that the Google search engine gets ever smarter, becoming more attuned to the person searching, and learning each individual’s nuances.

Here is a short video overview:

Plus one – your new business assistant

+1 is a cross between a bookmarking service and a search engine tuned to everything you’ve ever looked at –or ‘plus one’d’. Social media networking and closer interactions will come into play, as users find sites and information that their friends recommend. As +1 subtly permeates into everything you do and integrates with all your tools, plus one will become much more important than the “Like” button possibly ever could.

As Google fine-tunes their search engines to interconnect much like an assistant to the humanmind, you can see where they are going with that. Google has begun to dub experts in certain areas as having better search leverage or what is known as online klout. For example, a professional skater’s +1 would rank higher than a person that merely watches the sport.

And finally, Google, of course, is likely to favor Google. What does that mean? It’s an attempt by Google of essentially bringing SEO in-house. Instead of letting webmasters and SEO professionals stuff their sites with Google-friendly terms Google will now have a closer, more direct relationship with each searcher. This may effectively cut SEO professionals out and become far less important to rankings. It’s been reported, that +1 ranked sites are receiving remarkably better SEO rankings. This, in turn, has caused a stir of adaptation in the online business world.

Has this article been helpful? Let me know in the comment section below, or better yet. Plus one my post below!

Just can’t get enough? Here are a few more links:

Google Plus One – How will it impact SEO? – Affilorama discusses some of the reasons SEO strategies are changing.

How To Get A Google+ Vanity Url – Google+ profiles come with lengthy, numeric urls. Using this tool makes it possible to create a shortcut.

50 Random Thoughts On Google+ — Chris Brogan writes up 50 random thoughts on the new social platform.

Social Energizer’s purpose is to help companies develop lasting relationships with their customers and increase their visibility online.

In addition to building dynamic and affordable websites, we integrate inbound marketing techniques into each business’ current marketing plan and utilize digital channels and strategies like Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Search Engine Optimization, and Web-integrated Email Campaigns.

Give us a call today!

Google+ for Everyone!

I have a confession. As a social media enthusiast, I should have been biting at the chomp for my Google+ invite. Like many, I was not.  But finally, a friend passed along an invite and I took a look inside. Kicked the tires and still wasn’t that impressed. Then I attended a local Social Media Breakfast in Appleton, WI, which featured an open group discussion on Google+, where it’s going, and why it’s important to me, and will be, to the small and medium-sized businesses that I work with. Very helpful stuff!

My new outlook on Google+?Google Plus Project

Google+ actually offers something new. Before our breakfast meeting, I considered it merely a rip-off of Facebook, just invented to pull market share. Now, I see that it is a bit different with a different goal. In actuality, I think it may steal more market share from LinkedIn, than Facebook. You’ll see why in the examples below.

The more I use Google Plus, the more I understand how important it will become. Trust me.

So what’s new and unique about Google+?

It offers the ability to control who you are speaking with and allow separate conversations between different sets of friend and business ‘circles’. Businesses professionals will be able to connect with their various customers, leads, vendors and resources separately, but on one closely connected platform. As the sales and business cycle progresses, joining various groups for collaboration will be seemless -just create a new circle.

Google circlesThe magic of Google+ is that it allows you much closer interactions.  It opens the doors to people that you may not know, but would like to. For instance, I can follow Chris Brogan and really have a conversation with him. It doesn’t feel the same on Facebook or Twitter. It just doesn’t. So who is Chris Brogan, you ask? He’s my ‘Go-To’ guy (although, I doubt he knows it) for social media advice and online breaking news. Check out his helpful tutorial, “Start Now On Google Plus”. Let me know if you need an invite –I have extra ones!

What’s next on Google+?

If you’ve gone to Chris’ link, you’ve learned some easy ways to connect with people already on Google+. “Friendsurf” a little. What fun.

Then add some more to your profile, add some posts, maybe link to your website, blog and add some photos. Read some interesting posts by others; share them. It has a déjà-vu characteristic to it, but it still feels different and new. Then, as Chris says, check out the comment sections. It’s sort of like Twitter and Facebook combined, pulling from the best of both worlds.

Google+ Rollout Strategy

Has anyone thought of the Google+ strategy behind the rollout? There have been MANY negative comments around this. I’d just like to offer what I hope is perhaps a different viewpoint. I think it may be genius! By limiting the amount of users, and reserving it for the early-adapter, social media techies, Google+’s first phase used a strategy designed to “get the kinks out”. The second phase of their rollout strategy seems to be “by invitation only” which will encourage the early-adapters to support and teach this new stream of users. Since Google and all of their products do not supply ‘live’ help and very little online feedback, this second phase strategy is probably a good idea. Maybe even key to it’s survival.

Why Wait Anymore?

Where the tires hit the road will be in the third phase, which I suspect will be a more open rollout to the public. Soon Google+ will attract ‘niche’ communities, just like other social networks have in their start-up phases. Celebrities have already begun to spring up and other opinion leaders (besides those working in social media) will follow. Just as a tee-hee, I noticed that there is still not a ‘politician’ group on Group As, so it’s still relatively unspoiled.

What lays ahead for Google+?

Will Google+ garner enough enthusiastic support for long-time Facebookers to give up their personal pages, established friend connections, photos, etc.? Or will it perhaps find its own value, apart from Facebook? Will the ‘Walmart-like’ strategy, one of total market dominance, ultimately persuade users to move to Google+? After all, they currently own google.comyoutube.comblogger.com, and gmail.com. Four of the top trafficked sites of the world. As they become ready to tackle the next phase of growth for Google+, are they likely to up-the-ante on those not using Google+? Could they introduce a scoring system similar to Klout to give advantage to their early-adapters and top-users? Could they lower the SEO of sites not embracing Google+? The possibilities are endless and pretty much theirs to choose. Time will tell.  What do you think?

This has been Social Energizer’s Saturday Morning Post, usually a less business oriented, more personally related edition than our blog that is offered during the week. Social Energizer’s purpose is to help companies develop lasting relationships with their customers and increase their visibility online.

In addition to building dynamic and affordable websites, we integrate inbound marketing techniques into each business’ current marketing plan and utilize digital channels and strategies like Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Search Engine Optimization, and Web-integrated Email Campaigns.

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