Google+ : Promising but mostly Lonely Planet right now

I was lucky to receive Google+ invites from two sources mid last week and spent all weekend playing with it. It’s been 3 days and I have just 3 connections in my ‘Circles’ on Google+. Neither of these are close friends or family or in my regular real world social circle.

So right now Google+ feels like being early to a party. It seemed cool for 5 minutes to get in before everyone but now you wonder if your friends are going to show up.

As mentioned in the announcement, Google is referring to it as a project to signify that isn’t the final product and there are more useful features to come.

No doubt Google+ is innovative – especially Circle and Hangouts. It’s  great that I can see notifications on the toolbar and switch between other Google products and Google+ so easily. And it’s awesome there’s an Android app for something before an iPhone app.

Here’s a slideshow I put together highlighting the features at launch and my first impressions of the service.

I believe the test will really be to get current Facebook users to see an incentive in Google+. Why should they consider porting all their content on that network to Google+ or see the need to have multiple posts and identities on more than one social channel.

Sheer laziness and privacy concerns will be the main entry barriers to do so. Besides, while Twitter and LinkedIn occupy clear niches that justify investing time in them, I’m not sure what differentiation Google+ promises.

As someone who uses Google products a lot – Adwords, Chrome, Blogger, Gmail, YouTube and owns an Android phone I have a high affinity for anything Google. I also already manage multiple identities on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook so Google+ is not going to be a problem. And I see the value in adding more useful content to my publicly visible Google profile for anyone searching me by name.

But what of the teenagers, housewives, twenty-something girls, older citizens. Will they jump on board and do on Google+ what they do on Facebook. And if they don’t will the few on Google+ stay active. I already find it hard enough to convince friends and family to use Twitter and Foursquare.

I also wonder what is appropriate to share on Google+. Just anything as on Facebook or more high brow like on Twitter and LinkedIn. I’ve decided Google+ falls between Facebook and Twitter/LinkedIn.

Have you test driven Google+ yet. I’d like to hear your thoughts.

Advertisements

42% of Aussie businesses plan to increase Social Media investment in 2011

Almost half of Australian businesses surveyed in the 2nd Nielsen-Community Engine Social Media Business Benchmarking Study plan to increase investment in the coming year. This increase is being driven by a stronger conviction of the need to be in this channel (66%) and also its targeting (50%) and ROI (40%) benefits.

Nielsen-Community-Engine-2011 StudyOther highlights from the study:

  • Top uses for SM – 50% Marketing and 30% each for CRM, Customer Service and Public Relations.
  • Budget is primarily spent on display advertising on social networks or maintaining Facebook presence (21% each)
  • Popular social media activities engaged in – maintaining a presence on social networks (28%) followed by tracking/monitoring (26%), responding to comments (25%)
  • Public Sector lags private sector with 51% respondents believing it lacks internal knowledge and expertise to undertake SM activities

In summary, it’s refreshing that businesses have moved past the stage of questioning the ROI and value of social media investments. Many businesses (31%) have reported strong or reasonable ROI returns in 2010. For Australian businesses the challenge continues to be resources – only 8% have full-time staff.

Businesses will eventually need to set up Social Media departments with separate budgets, KPI’s and staff and integrate their efforts with all other paid and owned media. Only then will businesses become more responsive and interactive like their US counterparts. In short, it’s time to go beyond the current ‘create and forget’ a Facebook presence approach.

Facebook Studio – Facebooks standalone website to view campaign examples

Facebook announced a new standalone website yesterday Facebook Studio for agencies and brands who are interested in seeing examples of creative & effective Facebook campaigns.

The site contains over 100 examples of work submitted by agencies all over the world. Leading brands features include BMWX3, Corona and Coke.

Facebook launches Facebook Studio - campaign examples showcase

Here is Facebooks explanation of the objective of Facebook Studio:

Inspiration: We’ve heard from agencies, brands and the marketing community that they want examples and thought-starters for creativity and innovation on Facebook. We’ve built this site to do just that– give this community a place to be inspired, and also a place to showcase your work. 

Education: In addition, the site is meant to provide scaled educational resources, FAQs, collateral and documentation so that our customers can learn about our products and get the latest and greatest information about Facebook Enjoy browsing, and if you find an example worth mentioning please drop me a line.

The site provides great navigation to quickly find campaign examples by your interest. You can start in the Spotlight section that features the best work or Gallery which contains all examples. The Spotlight section can be filtered by Region, Brand Category, Facebook Feature, Campaign Objective or by Other Media used. There’s only one NZ example under AsiaPacific so if you’ve got a great client campaign you’re proud of, dont miss the chance to get your Agency some cred by uploading it.

Facebook launches Facebook Studio - campaign examples showcase

Facebook Studio is also a great resource for social media marketing newbies with educational resources and tips for each product.

If you find a great campaign in the gallery thats worth a mention, please come back and share it with me here.