2014 Could be the year of Google+, and it might be rough

In late 2013, Google+ clenched the #2 spot for active users on social networks. The ghost town/Google employee jokes should finally start to subside. Now, I’ve been on Google+ since you had to get invited to it, but didn’t fully embrace it on the regular until last year. Jumping back in, I can honestly say that it felt like being a kid at a new school. There were established relationships, social mores, and groups of people that were either happy to help or eager to chastise.

bamboo wall with plants, 2014 The Year of Google+

Breaking through the social platform walls

With some of the recent changes Facebook has made to reach and Google’s increased leveraging of Google+ across all its properties, it’s a definite possibility that more brands will be making the shift to start checking out G+. It will not be an easy transition. So here are some things to remember for those starting out, and those already well established.

Be patient

We’re going to see people doing the link dropping thing. Anyone reading this that’s considering Google+, know that it’s not a ‘link drop and forget it’ platform. We’re going to see people spamming communities. Facebook and LinkedIn groups have taught people to do this by letting them get away with it. Future Google+ friends: don’t do this, or you’ll pick up a poor reputation quickly. Read community guidelines. Each one typically lays out the rules of being a member, clearly on the community’s page. It’s going to take time to undo this mindset for new Google+ users. We’re bound to see those damned notifications for things that are irrelevant to us, because Google doesn’t do a great job of explaining what that function really means. New users, only click the ‘Notify via email’ box when posting if those people have opted in to get notifications from you. Otherwise, you’re spamming them.

Be a guide

I have Dustin W. Stout’s “The Anatomy of a perfect Google+ post” on standby for anyone I introduce to Google+. I feel like it gives them a definitive look into how to compose interesting posts and treat the platform properly, as well as just honestly engage with others. I also often share Michael Bennett’s complete guide to Google+ once people get their bearings about them (it can be a bit overwhelming because it’s an awesomely exhaustive list of useful information). I also have a circle of Google+ rockstars that I share with people to get them going in the right direction. Using these and other resources to help others understand the massive differences in this platform from others will help people enrich the community, rather than simply annoy others.

Create and cultivate relationships with new users.

I am a firm believer in the idea of Relationship Marketing (check out the awesome weekly Google Hangouts from Wade Harman that is all about this topic). Not only do I find this important for my own work, it’s important to teach that aspect to others. As an established user, you should create a communal bond with new people, and they’ll be a better Google+ user (and marketer) for it. New users should strive to make real connections, and will quickly learn how to properly use the platform and engage with others on Google+. Everyone wins, and social media is social again.

What other recommendations would you have for people getting started on Google+? If you’re a new user, what questions about the platform do you have? Leave your comments below.

Now go get your social on!

Facebook and Twitter are at war for your voice

microphone, talk, messaging, voice, recordingWith the latest mobile update, Facebook now allows you to record video within the app, as well as send voice recordings through the messaging function. This could be in response to Twitter’s Vine app (which allows you to record up to 6 second video clips and post to Twitter, but is currently dealing with the inevitable porn problem) or at least explains why Facebook recently blocked the app from accessing Facebook to find friends. This war for your attention, and now your voice, is far from over between the two social media platforms. Expect to see more from both, especially in the mobile front, to garner more of your attention and time. Below is an article from Geek Wire with some more information:

Have you started using Vine to record and post video to Twitter? Do you think you’ll use the new voice function in your Facebook messages? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below!

Thanks for reading. Now go get your social on!

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What Facebook’s Graph Search Announcement Means to Your Small Business Page

Search within Facebook with Search Graph

Search within Facebook with Search Graph

Remember those long lost ‘Likes’? Y’know, the ones from people who Edgerank decided really didn’t want to receive your message? Well, Facebook’s newest announcement of Graph Search could help get back their attention.

Chances are, a person has clicked ‘Like’ on your page because they had a good experience, they saw that a friend did, you had a giveaway, or ran an ad. Graph Search will allow users to search all content in Facebook (that’s public or would have been viewable to them under normal circumstances) and use specific keywords to find information they need. So let’s say, for example, that you own an auto mechanic shop. If someone’s car breaks down, word of mouth is king. They hop on Facebook Graph Search, type in “Auto Mechanics near me that my friends like” and will find places that their friends have had good experiences with. This means a few things:

  1. It’s all the more important to keep people from unliking your page, even if they don’t necessarily interact with it (in other words, create quality content and don’t spam your page by posting so often that people get fed up and unclick ‘Like’)
  2. You need to reevaluate your page’s description, industry setting and relevant keywords to make sure everything is labeled properly for what will likely be called Facebook Graph SEO.

This announcement arriving in the first month of the New Year is a perfect opportunity for you to take another look at your page. See if you need to revamp your social media presence on Facebook. Look at your category, your keywords and your business description to make sure they all say what you need them to say in order to be found. Here’a an article from Forbes to further read up on Facebook’s announcement.

Facebook, announcement, search, graph, SEO, social media

Click to read full Forbes article

Thanks for reading. Now go get your social on!

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Rise of the Social Homepages

Time is becoming a very precious thing indeed. Trying to keep up on blogs, social networks, news, friends, family, work, and having non-computer related experiences create a life of constant pull on our attention. This constant pull in a gazillion different directions is exactly why I think these “Social homepages” are becoming more and more relevant. I’ve only joined two so far, and each has some functionalities that they can boast. Basically, they connect all of your social status updates and put them in a visual ‘homepage’ where one can visit and see everything that you’re sharing. The key here is the visual element. Photos you take, images pulled from links, videos; all these create a visually engaging aesthetic that will save your friends and followers time from visiting all of your networks. Let’s take a look at them.

Social networks all in one place

RebelMouse was created by by the former CTO of The Huffington Post, Paul Berry. It’s still in beta but is receiving a huge amount of buzz. Features have already been added from when I first received my invite. You can now embed your RebelMouse into your website or blog, thus making all your social updates visible from either. This is huge because your customers, potential clients, or friends don’t have to leave the place you’re putting your best work, as well as your products or services. You also have the ability to highlight certain posts that you want to stay stationary and maintain good real estate on your page, which I love!  As of right now, RebelMouse allows you to pull updates from Facebook profiles and pages, Twitter (you’ll need to use either to create your account) and just recently, Instagram. In an interview on July 9th, Paul Berry states that more networks are coming, such as Google+ and Tumblr. You can also manually add stories, which I imagine people who fully embrace their RebelMouse page as a homepage will be doing often. You can create separate RebelMouse pages for Facebook pages of which you are an admin, which is a great advantage to admins of multiple pages that aren’t really related. You can view others in your Facebook or Twitter networks that are using RebelMouse and follow their pages. Since it’s still in public beta, I can’t wait to see what new things come out of this already-popular platform.

glos.si for social networks

I was actually reached out to on Twitter by glos.si’s co-founder Sandy Lin while tweeting about RebelMouse (good poaching!). Since I dug RebelMouse, I figured it was worth a look, and I set up my own glos.si page. The first thing I noticed was that glos.si takes the same approach that Klout does and connects just about every social network under the sun. The designers to a great job of helping users show off their networks by listing them with icons in the profile heading. This is nice, just in case followers want to go and focus solely on a single network. glos.si uses the same idea I mention above for RebelMouse of creating something visually engaging, with your Foursquare updates staying stationary on the right and your other updates visually represented in tiled columns to the left. The option to change your view between images, articles, videos and everything makes reading pages a breeze. You also get to choose a background image, thus creating an even more personalized experience. The site uses a pretty cool randomized search to allow you to connect with other glos.si users not already in your other networks. As for connecting with friends using glos.si, you can only search Facebook and Twitter. One feature that I find really cool is the Newsstand feature. This creates a glos.si page of updates from everyone you follow, saving you even more time.

RebelMouse is already a slick platform with a very believable promise that there’s more to come. glos.si has a great interface already, and is strides ahead of RebelMouse since it was started back in September last year. Once RebelMouse comes of out beta, these two will certainly be in head to head competition. I’ll be interested to see where the two of them go.

Are you using either of these sites? Are there other “social homepage” sites that you’ve come across? Let me know below with your comments.

Thanks for reading. Now go get your social on!

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Brand Your Instagram Photos Using Over App

Over App

Taken with Instagram, text added with Over

A couple weeks ago, Chris Brogan tweeted about an app he was digging and shared a Google Hangout he had with a guy named Aaron Marshall. The app was called Over, and it allows you to add text over pictures on your iPhone (for the time being) using a really slick interface. You can then post your edited photos to Facebook (profile not page, yet), Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr (having issues getting mine to show up though) or send the image via email. I’ve yet to have Chris Brogan steer me wrong, so I checked out the app myself. Seemed like a fun way to spice up photos and I really enjoy the use of a scrolling wheel to go through all of your options. Later, I read a blog post shared by Valerie Deveza reminding bloggers that you can (and should) easily use your own, royalty-free images in your blog posts. This saves time scouring for usable images (and potential distractions of perusing the internet) and any concern of copyright infringement. Then. It hit me.

Over App

Taken with Instagram, text added with Over

A fantastic use for Over is to “brand” your photos that you take on your iPhone. If you already use Instagram or Facebook Camera, take your pictures and add your filters as normal. Open Over and load the picture in, add your company name, website, your name, message, etc, choose a font (more are available for individual purchase) and suddenly, the photo is officially yours. Also, if you’re a fan of Paper by 53 for the iPad (of which I am a raving fan), you can doodle your image, email it to yourself or screen capture it, add your text with Over, and suddenly it becomes branded as well. (Conversely, you could write out your company’s name/info in Paper if you have a steady hand, but I know many professionals whose handwriting is pretty atrocious.) Either way, you’ll get to show off your creative side and never worry if you’re going to receive a cease and desist letter for an image you’re using. Even with proper credit, you just can’t be too sure when using others’ intellectual property.

Fifty-Three, Yelp, Over App

Drawn with Paper by 53, text added with Over

The best part about using Over with the apps I’ve discussed is that you don’t have to go and buy (or illegally download) any expensive software. Over and Paper may cost you a few bucks, then you’re off to writing your blog safely, further engaging your creativity and artistic side. Just think. You could even create your own memes!

What are your thoughts on this approach? Are you using any other text-overlay apps that you’re hooked on? Are you already using your own images in your blog posts?

Let me know below with your comments.

Thanks for reading. Now go get your social on!

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The Social Gnome’s Hoard

Welcome to the Social Gnome’s Hoard, a collection of this week’s most interesting finds from the Social Gnome’s internet travels.

Week of July 19, 2012 (“Get to know our customers” Day. Find out something new about those who keep you in business.)

Social Gnome hoard image

  • This could be a game changer for this year’s election. USA Today reports that the state of Washington will be the first state to allow voters to register via Facebook. If ever there was a way to make registering to vote more accessible to the general public, this is the way to do it. Facebook users will be able to register to vote through an app on the secretary of state’s Facebook page, and they’ll even be able to share the app on their timeline for friends to see. This is going to be the new ‘I voted’ sticker for the digital age. Kudos to the state of Washington for taking the initiative on this and force feeding democracy on those too busy to register to vote because they’re clicking ‘Like’ on the latest meme.
  • I. Love. Lists. I use lists for everything. I use Evernote to organize lists of blog ideas. I use the notepad function on my iPhone to make lists of movies to see or places around Austin to check out. When I saw this headline on Twitter, I got uber excited. Lifehacker provides the Five Best To-Do List Managers apps. I will be checking these out myself to see which works the best for me, but the prospect of using some the listed features to organize my many to-dos has me tingling with delight. What? I like lists…
  • Jay Baer offers up a really interesting post discussing the difference between Social Media Influencers and Brand Advocates. He makes some very interesting points both in how each can be useful in their own way, and how very different they can be from each other. For those of you who prefer a more visual approach, the post includes a great infographic. For those of you who have a little bit of a nerdy streak, there’s even a dig at Aquaman. Who doesn’t love a good dig at Aquaman? I’d also like to take this moment to thank Jay for introducing me to Curate.Us, which allows me to quickly clip visual snippets from sources and place them in my blog posts as you see here. It’s such a useful tool.
  • As long as Stumbleupon.com continues to find me crazy weird things like this, things I would have never found  on my own, I will continue to let it eat up valuable resources from my time. (It is a great way to stay occupied on the bus ride home from work though.) Since I found this on Stumbleupon, and there really aren’t any other links or info on the page, I can’t tell you much about who made it or where it came from. You may find yourself fiddling around with it regardless. Who doesn’t love taking 15 seconds to drag the mouse and create unique melodies? I submit that there are very few people on that list.
  • Here’s an really interesting dynamic chart following the changes in how we consume music over that last 30 years. It’s really interesting to simply watch the trends from one technology to the next. I’d love to see the jump in just the two years after the chart stops. Once again, I found this on Stumbleupon, so I don’t know who exactly created it or where they are pulling their data from, but it appears relatively accurate, or at least it makes sense. From the web address, it appears to be coming from digitalmusicnews.com.
  • Lastly, Stanford of Pushing Social shares an interesting analogy with regards to why you may not be getting the interaction you want or hope for in your blog. It seems a pretty simple concept that he discusses, but one that still so few seem to grasp in this digital world of “look at me, look at me!” Stanford always writes great stuff and is quickly becoming one of my favorite go-to people for blogging advice. Pushing Social is worth following for bloggers of any caliber to find quick, to-the-point advice that you can put to use. This one is a quick read, and worth checking to make sure you’re not THAT guy that he points out in the post.
  • Last minute addition to wrench your heart a bit. Thursday night, at the midnight premiere of the Dark Knight Rises, a man in a gas mask wearing all black decided to throw tear gas and open fire into the crowd. At the time of writing this, 12 are dead and many more wounded, some of them being children. I simply don’t understand it. 24-year old James Holmes has not given a motive yet, but that doesn’t matter. People were excited about a movie and he ruined their lives. Unbelievable.
So there you are. Another weeks’ worth of noteworthy, interesting or just funny content to keep you in the know. Did I miss anything great that you came across? What do you think about the ability to register to vote on Facebook? Would you like to see more social integration into important parts of our society as we know it?  Are you a list-maker yourself, and do you already use any of the apps Lifehacker spotlights? Weigh in below with your comments.

Now go get your social on!

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Why the Olympics could be bad for your business

Olympics London 2012

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The 2012 Summer Olympics are approaching quickly. Soon status updates and tweets will be flooding timelines and feeds with the latest stories, winners, broken records, upsets and national pride. What could possibly be wrong with that, you ask? Well, if you’re trying to still garner any attention during the Olympics, you may find your attempts getting buried and ignored by distracted potential customers (y’know, even more than they already are.) I read an article in Inc. Magazine about a company called Elemental that will be providing the technology to live stream the Olympics events to mobile devices. What could possibly be more distracting than that? It has also been said that this Olympics will be remembered as the first truly Social Olympics, Facebook has partnered with NBC to promote coverage, and athletes are being held to strict regulations. So what are you to do?

You’re going to have to get involved. That’s right, you need to do a couple things to keep yourself relevant while those Olympians are fighting for the gold, and the attention of your customers:

  1. Inject yourself into the conversation –  Let’s be honest. McDonald’s unhealthy double quarter pounder and large fries have nothing to do with the rigorous healthy regimen that Olympic athletes must hold themselves to. But will McDonald’s find a way to remain relevant and advertise using the Olympics as a backdrop? You better believe it. Find a story and run with it. Keep up on athletes (maybe some from a relatively local area) and support them, report on their victories or upsets, engage your customers in what is important to them in the moment. Find ways to subtly but interestingly insert your product or service. Do you sell sports equipment? Talk about those pro goggles or amazing new running shoes an athlete is wearing. Do you specialize in childcare? Get the kids involved in the stories of athletes rise to glory and the importance of staying fit. Do you sell electronics? Um, guys, they’re streaming the Olympics live on mobile devices. We have those mobile devices. Don’t be overbearing, just be relevant. If you can be clever without coming across as a slimy salesperson, even better.Twitter hashtags trending topics
  2. Follow the hashtags – Honestly, I hate trending topics. I find that they’re either things I could care less about or just outright stupid. However, when huge things happen, they trend. (For example, at the time of typing this, two trending topics are #SongsThatGiveYouGoosebumps and Is Pregnant. Insert long Napoleon Dynamite sigh here.) Being someone who is on Twitter for good parts of the day reaching out to customers, I can tell you that general Twitter users love easily shareable hashtags (especially the 10ThingsYadaYadaYada kind). The Olympics has an official hashtag (#London2012), so watching that is important. Maybe even create your own, just be sure to check that it doesn’t already exist. Again, use these to find out what conversations are going on and join them. Are people tweeting about that hometown favorite who lost by 5 tenths of a second? Lament right along with them. Is an up and coming swimmer talking about that speedo that Tyler McGill is wearing? If you’re a sports shop, do you sell those? Be creative and be interesting so you won’t be forgotten.

I know it’s not a simple as it sounds. You’re busy and this is another thing on your plate. As a small or local business, community is everything, and national pride is a unifier not to be scoffed at. It really could pay off for you to do these two things.

What do you think? Do you already have any plans to compete with the increased social traffic of the Olympics? Are you the type of person who gets excited about the games? Do you plan to try to live stream it to your mobile device and keep up on the results?

Let me know below with your comments.

Thanks for reading. Now go get your social on!

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Achieving Olympic Gold – Helping the Family of Tyler McGill

The above picture is of my friend Jeff McGill and his son Tyler. Jeff is a friend, a fellow thespian, and an all-around good guy. He works hard, stays in shape, does volunteer work and has raised an amazing family. His son Tyler is a swimmer. I don’t mean one of those guys that just hangs around the pool. I mean the real deal, blazing through the water, leaving you in his bubbles, swimmer. So much, that he’s actually qualified to swim in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, which is beyond exciting. His times are so close to Michael Phelps’s times, that Olympic gold is truly a possibility this year. There’s only one problem. For Jeff and his family to travel out to London, stay for the entire time necessary and get all the necessary registration done, is expensive. Like, CRAZY expensive. Here’s where we come in. This is an honest to goodness opportunity to help make a real Olympic dream come true. This is a chance to make an impact in one the most amazing opportunities in a young man’s life. An opportunity to make sure his family is right there to celebrate with him, should he obtain an Olympic medal. So we’ve started a donation page on GoFundMe.com. If you’re interested, you can donate as much or as little as you want, anonymously or with your name and a message. I’d really like to see this family watch their son compete for the gold, and I hope you’ll help them get there.

Check out a great interview with Tyler McGill talking about Olympic hopes and encouraging young swimmers:

Thanks for reading.

Now go get your social on!

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What Would You Do If…? Lessons On My Birthday

Facebook page birthday notification July 9

By 7:45, the early risers are on the ball!

I’m currently typing this blog post on Sunday, July 8, 2012. The day before my birthday. Already, I’ve received a couple notifications of people wishing me a happy birthday. By the time you read this, I will likely have received numerous wall posts from friends, family, acquaintances, and people I forgot I was Facebook friends with. I’ll likely get birthday wishes from people who’s “Happy Birthday” post will be the only interaction I’ve had with them on Facebook (or in any other form) in months. No one really remembers birthdays anymore. Why should we? Facebook does it for us. That got me thinking. With so much time and dependence that we all put into Facebook, will we really be ready to handle it’s potential and eventual decline? How will we go back to actually remembering people’s birthdays, peer into their lives, and creep on people if Facebook’s revenue model and waning coolness sends them crashing and burning like so many other internet fads, memes and viral superstars? Younger crowds are already growing weary of the advertising and familial presences on Facebook, according to this article from All Facebook.

Abandoned Playground

MySpace has been referred to the abandoned playground of the Internet. Is Facebook next?

This also got me thinking in terms of business. Sure, right now you must have a presence on Facebook to be where everyone is. Will that be true for the next generation of those with purchasing power? If your business is geared toward a younger audience, do you have a back up plan to be ready to go where they are? Probably not. Many small businesses are still just starting to fully adopt social media into their marketing and business plans. They’ve been told for the last few years that Facebook is the place to be, and now they may start hearing that it’s on the downward slide.

Now I’m not saying that you should be scrambling to figure out what to do and prepare for ‘life after Facebook.’ It’s like the zombie apocalypse. Is it going to happen tomorrow? Not likely, but you should maybe have a plan just in case it does. I think that might be a future blog post.

What do you think? How long does Facebook have to hold the crown of King of Social Media? Who is likely next in line to usurp the crown? Do you have kids or target a younger audience, and have you seen a shift in their focus for networking online and with mobile devices?

Let me know below with your comments. Thanks for reading. Now go get your social on!

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The Social Gnome’s Hoard

Welcome to the Social Gnome’s Hoard, a collection of this week’s most interesting finds from the Social Gnome’s internet travels.

Week of June 20, 2012 (American Eagle Day, so do your country proud):

Social Gnome hoard image

  • For those of you who love those infographs, Social Times has put together some interesting demographic information on who is using the various social networks. Some of the data may come as no surprise if you follow this kind of data, but some of the data is still pretty staggering. I especially like the section that outlines how much a user is supposedly worth to the networks. I’ll take my check now, Mr. Zuckerberg.
  • As a blogger, I’m always looking for something to inspire me, something to keep me furiously clicking away at the keys and trying to get that next blog post out (and on time, to boot). Copyblogger provides some words of wisdom, as usual. This time, in an easily printable format that you can put right above your desk. No more excuses. Print it. Live it. Do it. Be a better writer. Just as easily said as done, right?
30 Best Content Curation Resources for Marketers and Business Pros

Clipped from: http://www.b2bmarketinginsider.com (share this clip)

  • Speaking of blogging tips, if you’re having a tough time figuring out what exactly it is that you want to write about, here is a list of 30 Curation Sources from B2B Marketing Insider to help you get started. Some are big news reporting names you’re already familiar with, but there are a few gems in here that I was unfamiliar with, but am definitely checking out. The article provides links and links to Twitter profiles for all 30, so you can jump right in and follow these sources to keep your content fresh and interesting.
  • Anyone who works in social media, or works digitally with clients, will appreciate the humor in this Tumblr blog “What Should We Call Social Media.” If you haven’t checked it out yet, it is a must. Using animated GIFs, this blog expresses exactly what you and I are feeling when clients or their customers do things that drive us up a wall. It also approaches other great themes like “When Klout tells me it believes I’m influential in something I’ve literally NEVER talked about.” It’s a fantastic Tumblr, but be careful it doesn’t drain your day away. You’ve got clients to think about.

Clipped from: redOrbit (share this clip)
  • Great news to all of you Flipboard lovers (like me!). Google+ announced this week that it would finally be opening up its API to allow your Google+ stream to be viewable from your Flipboard dashboard. It was already possible to view your Google+ stream on Google Currents, which was one pull for me, but I’ve been wildly awaiting this announcement. This hopefully means we’ll see many more availabilities opening up (like Hootsuite and maybe Buffer!). Google previous closed-off nature with their API was one thing hurting them in the battle against Facebook. This could be a pretty major turning point for Google+ usage and integration.
  • And finally, for all you music lovers out there, this FREE app is a must-have. Band of the Day is an app for iPad and iPhone that provides a new band or artist recommendation for every day of the year. You can even go back a handful of weeks to see what you may have missed. The app allows you to preview numerous (if not all) songs by the band or artist, reviews, bios, videos and links to purchase the songs as well. It does obviously require an internet or WiFi connection. The user interface is really slick and moves smoothly through all the various screens. There may be a few artists you’re already pretty familiar with, but unless you’re a major indie music aficionado, you’re likely to find tons of music you’ve never heard before. I highly recommend this app, especially on the iPad, to anyone who thirsts for more music in their life.
So there you are. Another weeks’ worth of noteworthy, interesting or just funny content to keep you in the know. Did I miss anything great that you came across? Do you know of any other great music recommending apps out there? Do you use Flipboard, Google Currents, or some other dashboard for all your news gathering? Weigh in below with your comments.

Now go get your social on!

Follow this blog on your mobile device with Google Currents! Go to the app store and download Google Currents for your iPhone or Android and subscribe to Robzie Social HERE!