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7 Google Plus Adds New Features

Google+ added three new features this week that, while not earth shattering, offer some additional functionality for the reported 40 million or so users of the network.

What’s Hot – this is a pretty simple add and allows users to see what public posts are getting the most shares, comments and +1s. It’s the answer to Twitter’s Trending Tweets in a way. Expect popular posts to get even more popular once everyone has access to them.

Ripples – this add gives users a nice graphical way to view the history of a post. Simple find a post and then over there to right of the post click the little arrow drop down and hit “View Ripples”

Once you do this you’ll be treated to a mind map kind of view of all of the shares, comments and spokes of conversation.

Google+ Creative Kit – Photo sharing is a big part of Google+ and the Creative Kit adds some image editing functionality so you can jazz those photos up with filters, sharpen images and add text. I think this will actually help make branded images that tell a story with simple text a mainstay on Google+

Google Apps customers can now use Google+ – Google Apps users can now create Google+ logins, but wonder how many people already created G+ accounts with personal emails first.

2 Weekend Favs October Eight

My weekend blog post routine includes posting links to a handful of tools or great content I ran across during the week.

I don’t go into depth about the finds, but encourage you check them out if they sound interesting. The photo in the post is a favorite for the week from Flickr.

Image anaroza via Flickr

Good stuff I found this week

Google+ tab on Facebook – With this app you can bring your Google+ stream to a tab on Facebook. There may be a variety of reasons why you would do this, and jabbing Facebook might be just one.

Formulists – Organize, manage and expand your Twitter community through smart Twitter lists

Cognifit – Mind training program that helps you focus on retaining and expanding your brain’s cognitive thinking skills.

11 Google Intros the +1 Button Payoff

Back in June or so I added the Google +1 button to my site, but like most people I did it because, well, it’s Google. (Use the Google button maker to get your +1 button)

The truth is nobody really had much idea what the payoff for clicking that button was. There’s always the implication that pages with lots of +1s would naturally get a little bump in the Google algorithm, but certainly no word from Google on that.

Today the +1 Button’s payoff is very clear. Google has added a feature that in my mind mandates the addition of the +1 button to your pages and blog posts.

Now, when someone finds some content that they want to +1 they will have to option to share the content directly to Google Plus and whatever circles they choose just by hovering over the +1 button. This makes the +1 button on par with the Facebook Send and LinkedIn InShare buttons in terms of potential exposure the +1d content can receive.

Google +1 button

Google Plus users can hover over the +1 button to share to circles

Some things to note:

  • You don’t have to be a Google Plus user to put the +1 button on your site
  • The persons doing the +1 must be a Google Plus user
  • They must be logged in when they hover over +1 button to see the added feature

Google also gives the more techie types the tools to edit what gets shared – such as the image, title and description that are suggested when someone chooses to share. Using what Google calls +snippets you can add code to dictate the default for these. (In WordPress you should get in the habit of using the featured image setting for images in your blog posts.)

I wrote about how add the +1 button to your site here. You can also use a +1 WordPress Plugin to make this happen on a WordPress blog.

19 Getting the Google Plus Conversation Right

If you still haven’t joined Google Plus click here – 150 invites

Google Plus conversations

Benson Kua via Flickr

One of the most interesting things about Google’s new social network, Google Plus, is the conversation that participation generates.

Some still attribute this to the newness factor, but it’s one of the things that really makes Google Plus exciting right now.

Posting is different

One of my first observations is about the kind of content that attracts the most interest. Simply republishing blog posts is not necessarily the best way to generate conversation. Publishing a somewhat divisive opinion contained in a blog post is. Posting images and videos is. Posting opinions is. Posting observations is.

There are essentially three ways for people to interact with your content on Google Plus. They can +1 it, share it and make a comment on it. In my experience so far, people +1 something as a way of saying – I like that. They share as a way of saying I want people that I’m connected with to see that (it’s one way people fill up their own stream.) They make comments when they want to agree or disagree or in response to a question.

Because of the way the entire content and conversation package is displayed on Google Plus the comments are a bigger part of how the conversation ends up then they might be on the more traditional blogging format.

Experiment with content

Noting some of the differences stated above has me playing around with getting the mix right, but I can say it’s a work in progress. Sometimes you make a simple observation and find the conversation wanders into considering your own mortality.

Here are a handful of posts that show the different kinds of engagement for different kinds of content with the engagement numbers for each.

Here’s where I asked people what they +1 or share – questions draw comments for obvious reasons – +4, 5 shares, 39 comments

Here’s where I suggested that we need prepare students better for the reality of a digital world – opinions can draw all three – +18, 17 shares, 26 comments

Here’s where I uploaded a photo that contained an interesting reflection my beer glass made on the bar+38, 3 shares, 29 comments – including one telling me I was old and thought my life was over, but pretty amazing to think that an image, uploaded in real time would draw this much conversation – images draw lots of +1 and get comments if they are odd, but don’t draw many shares unless they are magnificent (photographers are finding a real home here)

Here’s a repost of a short YouTube video about giving referrals (another interesting thing about G+, videos, even ones you’ve previously posted elsewhere, do very well) – +31, 25 shares, 24 comments – short, inspiring videos can draw lots of attention.

Here’s another one that’s just an image from a photo shoot for a magazine – okay, it’s a pretty cool photo, but look at the conversation – +56, 1 share, 48 comments – again, another case of an image drawing +1 and comments, but not as many shares.

And lastly – Here’s where I created a graphic that stated something that the early users of Google Plus were all thinking, but I was one of the first to capture it I guess – The brutally honest guide to naming circles on Google+ +78, 2029 shares, 96 comments – one of the most shared images of all time mainly because it contained a powerful insight and the timing was right.

Here’s my advice

Shares are probably the most important if you want to build your audience and get more traffic. Thoughtful insights, useful videos and valuable how to content is what people share. +1s may help some day in search and comments are an important sign of healthy followings, but shares are where it’s at.

Traffic generation

Google Plus is often in the top three spots, and more than once the top spot, in daily traffic to my site. And yet, traffic from other social networks has not dropped. So, making the effort to get your posting on Google Plus right – meaning tailoring it to the Google Plus conversation – is not only worth the effort in terms of traffic, it will certainly be worth it one day in terms of search and is already worth it today in terms of stimulating conversation.

29 My Content Amplification System

Today’s post is in answer to a direct request I’ve received a number of times.

Content AmplificationOf course writing good content is only part of the business challenge. You’ve also got to get it read. Some would say, and to a large part this is true, that simply writing something that people want to read is the first step in drawing links and shares, but you’ve also got to put your content out there in places where people do their reading these days.

The following is a sampling of my content amplification routine. I do this with each blog post in an effort to get that particular piece of content the greatest amount of exposure. Is this the perfect, all inclusive list, probably not, but it’s a routine that I can do in about five minutes and still give my content a chance to be seen by lots of potential clients, journalists and strategic partners.

After I hit publish I:

  • Tweet the headline and link with some context to draw the most interest using StumbleUpon link shortener su.pr – this syndicates the content to StumbleUpon and Twitter and starts the traffic exposure in both places.
  • Publish the post to my Facebook Page
  • Publish the post to my Google+ Stream – public, circles and extended circles
  • Publish the post to my LinkedIn profile – also share with several large groups
  • Bookmark the post in appropriate tags to Delicious
  • If a post has drawn a large number of retweets I may post to Twitter a second time during the day – I generally make this decision and schedule the Tweet for a specific time using TweetDeck’s scheduling function

A couple things worth noting:

  • I don’t use a service or tool to cross post this to all avenues as I think they all have their own personality and following and I take a minute to point out something different about the post in each network.
  • I participate in many other ways, unrelated to my own content promotion in each of these networks
  • I check back several times a day, depending on my schedule to participate in any conversations happening around the content, including comments on the original blog post
  • I have +1, LinkedIn, and Facebook buttons above every blog post
  • I have links to share the content with popular bookmarking sites on the blog posts (sociable plugin) and in the RSS feed (Feedburner feed flare option)
  • I often highlight a particularly well read blog post or two from the week in my weekly email newsletter

So, what would you add to this list?

9 5 Collaboration Tools Demonstrate How the Future Web Will Act

TalkWheelThe ability to collaborate with individuals and groups around the world is one of the greatest gifts offered by the new breed of online tool. These tools, and perhaps the web in general, are evolving to become more interactive and feature rich.

With the eventual adoption of HTML5 and its heavy support for AJAX, web pages are quickly becoming web applications in a foreshadowing of the next standard for web sites. Take note of these new tools as they will usher in the expectation that all sites begin to function instead of merely house information.

Below are 5 new breed collaboration tools making heavy use of HMTL5.

Groupzap – This one wins the coolness award in my book, but offers a really powerful set of tools for instant collaboration and brainstorming meetings and white boards on the fly. Marry it with Skype and you have a no cost tool that is hard to beat. You can drag files into the space, document with notes and save the entire session as a PDF. Nobody has to register you just send out a link via IM or email.

Microsoft Office Web Apps – (okay, this one probably doesn’t use HTML5 as IE doesn’t add support for it until IE9, but it still fits the new breed label) – Using the Office Web Apps and SkyDrive you can open a document with a group of people and  co-author and edit in real time with the entire group participating, making changes and viewing the changes live.

Google + Hangouts – One of the most talked about features of the much talked about Google + is Hangouts – a video chat function that allows you to invite or simply host an on the fly group video meeting. (There is now a Facebook plug in that mirrors this and you can add a Group Meeting plug in to your own WordPress blog)

TalkWheel – TalkWheel is an instant messaging platform that works more like a roundtable discussion than the linier stack of the typical IM. It actually create a visual representation of the conversations and filters and relates topics. Looks like a very cool way to keep track of conversations from around the web and I can see lots of focus group and brainstorming uses with its visual presentation.

Vokle – I’m probably stretching how some might view collaboration with this one, but I just love what you can do with Vokle. Vokle is actually a live streaming video platform, but it makes it very easy to have two people present or invite virtual guests to create a talk show kind of feel. You can also share a computer screen as the guest to flip back and forth from live presenter to slides or images. The entire stream can be recorded for future playback as well.

6 Weekend Favs July Thirty

My weekend blog post routine includes posting links to a handful of tools or great content I ran across during the week.

I don’t go into depth about the finds, but encourage you check them out if they sound interesting. The photo in the post is a favorite for the week from Flickr.

julien.barrier via Flickr

Good stuff I found this week:
VideoGenie – tool that simplifies the process of gathering, publishing, managing and analyzing customer videos. As long as your customers have a web cam they can submit video testimonials.

Make Google Plus Banners – this tool makes it very easy to take any image and turn it into a banner for your Google Plus profile.

ContactMe – Very simple, low cost CRM tool that is all online and integrates nicely with popular email service providers like Constant Contact.

14 Google Plus Starting to Impact Search

The link between Google Plus and the impact it will have on search results is one that many people are watching closely. Google Plus is taking hold and Google’s search product is a big benefactor as millions of motivated folks are +1ing, sharing and commenting on great content they create and find.

The content creation and curation going inside of Google Plus is one of the best reasons to participate, it’s also given Google an army of content consumers to help them hand select content.

The results of some of this work are staring to show up in search. Google Plus users that are logged into their Google account while conducting searches will start to see search results from people they are connected with in Google Plus. Search while logged out and you won’t see the shared by connections link and the search results will be altered somewhat.

google plus in search

Google Plus connections are highlighted and search results altered

This isn’t really news as Google has been trying to bring social search to life for some time and shows what they think are more relevant results when you are logged in.

The difference here though is that while social search results have been around, they’ve been limited to the perhaps few dozen people you were connected with through GMail or GTalk. With Google Plus people are connecting with thousands of people already and this is changing the search experience in more noticeable ways.

So, as a content consumer, your results may differ – for good or bad – I for one don’t like the altered search results, but some may prefer them.

But, the real question is – as a content producer does a high level of participation in Google Plus give your content a better chance of ranking well in Google? For now I think the short answer is sort of. If you have lots of connections in Google Plus and share and +1 lots of content, including your own, then some of that content will start to rise higher for searches done by your connections.

As spammers send bots into Google Plus to create large connection networks this will certainly be something Google will have to evolve.

Having said that here are three recommendations I stand by:
Get into Google Plus and build a following – it’s a better tool for business networking, content discovery and content sharing than any other network currently.

Add the +1 button to your content – the +1 button is integrated into Google Plus, but it’s also a part of the overall content discovery piece in Google search and needs to go along side your Like and InShare buttons on y0ur own blog and  web pages. – I wrote a How To Add +1 Tutorial here.

Example of author highlighting in Google search

Add the rel=”author” attribute to your content – Google is attempting to find another, better way to attribute original content to the original author. They have introduced a highlighting feature that will showcase Google Profile of original authors like in the image above. You need to add the rel=author attribute to your content links, point that attribute to an About Us kind of page on the same domain and have a link on that page pointing to your Google Profile page and a link on your Google Profile page should point back to your About Us page. Yoast does a great job explaining this with this tutorial for WordPress folks here

20 5 Google Plus Tips and Chris Brogan

Marketing podcast with Chris Brogan (Click to play or right click and “Save As” to download – Subscribe now via iTunes or subscribe via other RSS device (Google Listen)

Google Plus LogoFor this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast I grabbed a few minutes with Chris Brogan. Chris is the founder of Human Business Works, writes and speaks on all things related to social media and is a documented Google Plus fanboy.

Chris and I talk about what Google Plus is, what it means, its strong points and weak points and why he has moved a great deal of his own personal networking activity to Google Plus. Have a listen.

Below are a couple tips that I’ve been using to enhance my own Google Plus experience – connect with me on Google Plus if you like.

1) Add the Google Plus Profile card to your blog – Grab the Google Plus Card WordPress plugin puts your Google Plus profile in your blog sidebar just like you see over there to the left – this will help spread the word about your presence there.

2) Add photos like a slideshow – Create a new Album and upload a series of slides as images (all the same size) in the order you would like them to show and Google Plus creates a viewer that can be clicked through much like a slideshow.

3) Send Google Plus items to Evernote – simply create a circle and add your Evernote email address as the lone user. Then share anything on Google Plus with that circle and it will automatically be sent to your Evernote account.

4) Search Google Plus – Google Plus doesn’t really have any good way to find people you might want to connect by occupation or interest yet. You can, however, use Google search to do the job – to search by topic, add this to a Google search – your topic site:plus.google.com ie: “small business marketing” site:plus.google.com

5) Publish your Google Plus public feed to your WordPress blog – I’m sure badges and widgets are coming for G+ but until they do here’s how I published a mini G+ feed on my blog

First – find you profile # – mine is 103952215474318614668 – then simply use this tool from plusfeed to create an RSS URL with your # – http://plusfeed.appspot.com/yourprofilenumber here, this is an RSS feed for my G+ public feed only (you can actually do this for any public feed if you wanted to publish other people’s feed)

Next take the RSS feed above and burned it at Feedburner (I know, another Google property.) Feedburner has a feature called BuzzBoost that makes it pretty easy to republish an RSS and produces the code you need for your widget. Take that code and create a text widget in WordPress, place it in your theme (you might also add a link back to your profile) and that’s it.

Bonus: Don’t forget to add the Google +1 button to your blog and Website pages. This is one way that people point out content on your site and share it with their Google Plus followers. I show you how to do that here: Adding the Google +1 Button

7 Weekend Favs July Sixteen

My weekend blog post routine includes posting links to a handful of tools or great content I ran across during the week.

I don’t go into depth about the finds, but encourage you check them out if they sound interesting. The photo in the post is a favorite for the week from Flickr.

Visually infographic

Image from Visual.ly

Good stuff I found this week:
Google Plus Card – This WordPress plugin puts your Google Plus profile in your blog sidebar just like you see over there to the left

Visual.ly – Very cool tool that simplifies the act of creating infographics. You can also explore and embed a graphic from a growing library housed there. (Image in this post is screenshot only from the site not an embed)

World Time Buddy – for anyone that deals with multiple time zones this is the most ridiculously easy time zone converter tool ever.