Facebook wakes Google’s sleeping beast – Google+

by Cam Clark

I just finished reading a great article by Steven Levey over at Wired on the back story of Google’s most recent push into social networking, Google+. It’s a lengthy piece, but I would definitely recommend the read.



Go sign up for Google +

Surely anyone who has followed Google’s past efforts will be skeptical about whether Google can actually pull this off. The company has had quite the scarred past, littered with products such as Orkut, Open Social, Google Wave and Buzz.

In his article, though, Levey talks about how Google has seen the writing on the wall and is finally putting a full-force effort into the social networking realm. This concerted push is turning the company on its head and “‘… transforming Google itself into a social destination at a level and scale that we’ve never attempted — orders of magnitude more investment, in terms of people, than any previous project,’ says Vic Gundotra.”

“Google+ is not a typical release. Developed under the code name Emerald Sea, it is the result of a lengthy and urgent effort involving almost all of the company’s products. Hundreds of engineers were involved in the effort. It has been a key focus for new CEO Larry Page.” – Steven Levey

In fact, Google has already been rolling out features to incorporate with Google+. Its +1 program, for example, is an answer to Facebook’s “like” button, and it makes a lot more sense when you attach a back-end such as Google+.

Google even tied its employee bonus heavily to this effort:

Levey reports that, “… after Larry Page formally took the CEO title, he reportedly mandated that 25 percent of the annual bonus check for all Google employees would be dependent on how well the company does in its social efforts.”

Google believes that there is a sweet spot that has been left open by Twitter and Facebook. According to Shimrit Ben-Yair, a product manager at Google, with Facebook, you overshare because it is a walled garden, but you have your boss and your grandma as your friend. On twitter, he says, you undershare because you know the whole world can see it. I, for one, would love to see this sweet spot actually work.



xkcd’s take on Google+

I have, for a while now, been talking about the growing pressures on Facebook, some of which include:

  • Students at CIMS have been working on Diaspora, a valiant effort to produce an open source competitor to Facebook.
  • Quit Facebook Day was attended by almost 40,000 people. A small drop in the bucket to Facebook’s 750 million – but it is important to notice.
  • Phrases such as “facebook fatigue,” “quit facebook,” “facebook sucks,” and “delete facebook” have been trending in search since 2008.
  • Facebook flopped in a recent study done on consumer satisfaction by the American Customer Satisfaction Index. It came in just behind the IRS.



Check out the Google+ demo here.

I would tentatively argue that a lot of people use Facebook because there are no other good alternatives. Facebook is almost where Myspace was back in 2008 and 2009. It’s the king of the heap. It has no real competition, but it does have a growing number of dissatisfied users, myself included. Facebook is an AT&T without a Verizon, a Chevy without a Ford, an Apple without a Microsoft. Until now.

Some people may feel it is too little, too late. I would beg to differ that it might just be new enough, just in time. No one has really stepped up to the plate to challenge Facebook, aka the Godzilla of Social Networking. I think the quote from Ben-Yair says it well.

“No one expects an instant success. But even if this week’s launch evokes snark or yawns, Google will keep at it. Google+ is not a product like Buzz or Wave where the company’s leaders can chalk off a failure to laudable ambition and then move on. “We’re in this for the long run. This isn’t like an experiment. We’re betting on this, so if obstacles arise, we’ll adapt.”

Now, the battle over the world’s internet users is transitioning from Godzilla vs Bambi to Godzilla vs King Kong. I’m looking forward to the clash of the titans that is soon to ensue.

[UPDATE] 2011-06-29 16:50:24 – Brian over at engadget got his hands on an invitation and posted a nice walk through.

[UPDATE] 2011-06-29 19:09:56 – Found a video introduction of Google+

[UPDATE] 2011-06-29 23:24:20 – This Week in Google (TWIG) – Video interview covering Google+

[UPDATE] 2011-06-30 09:27:18 – Google opens up, then closes Google+ invites due to “insane demand

[UPDATE] 2011-07-12 09:29:23 – Google+ About To Hit 10 Million Users [REPORT]


A year of fun in the ‘hood

The top topic buzzing around our office lately is our upcoming first birthday bash . Like our launch party last year, we plan to highlight the wonderful wares of our neighborhood – distillers, caterers, brewers, bakers, artists, winemakers and more.

As much as I’m looking forward to the party, looking back over the past year makes me grateful just to be part of AM:PM PR.

I’m the old guy in our group – literally the father figure to my partner, Allison, and our Human Infrastructure Technician, Erin. (I had to use “literally” in my post because it irritates Jake when people use the word inappropriately. I, of course, used it appropriately.)

When we set out on this adventure last year, I had this quixotic hope that spending my days working with young professionals would be invigorating. Turns out, I was right.

Instead of working in the Class A office space I enjoyed for more than 20 years downtown, we looked to the evolving east side of Portland’s Willamette River, where industrial operations mix with hot new restaurants, artist studios and a vibrant creative community. We ended up in a historic firehouse (lovingly restored by Venerable Properties and Bremik Construction).

Our group wanted open space, not private offices. They wanted to sit together around a big table. For an old coot like me, it’s strange. But my colleagues are comfortable with it. Collaboration is natural and creating privacy simply requires putting in their ear buds, or taking a call in our toy room.

Clients have helped us better understand what business we’re in. We knew interest in social networks was escalating exponentially, but we were surprised so many clients in the business-to-business categories – law firms, construction companies, architects, engineers, trade associations, etc. – are eager to learn more about and use social media.

Of course, one reason to celebrate is that we’re still here. Starting a business in the midst of a dismal economy is anything but ideal. Surviving and succeeding is worth celebrating.

But my main reason for celebrating is the gift I get from working with young professionals who respect traditional principles of successful public relations and teach me new insights about how to use today’s constantly changing communications tools.

It’s been a great ride this year. And we plan to have even more fun in the year ahead. Hope you can join us for the party.






The wisdom and wise words of Dr. Suess

Five Dr. Seuss Quotes with PR Lessons

Dr. Seuss’s wise words for the young and old can be applied to every part of life – even in the PR business. Some of his best quotes have PR lessons within.

Top Five Dr. Seuss Quotes Translated Into PR Lessons:

Dr. Suess - wisdom and art


1.) “Shorth is better than length.”

The most read blogs are 150 words or less.  This blog is about three times that length, so I’ve chopped it into bite-sized nuggets for easy consumption.  If you want to get your message across, whether by blog, email, video or media pitch, keep it short.  Shorthness will increase the likelihood that your message is remembered.

2.) “Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the things you can think up if only you try!”

We often get requests from prospective clients who need help with outreach, but have no plan in place.  Developing a strategic plan that integrates all outreach enhances the effectiveness of your efforts.  Creative brainstorming and planning will also provide social networking content ideas and pitch angles throughout the year.

3.) “I meant what I said and I said what I meant.”

Don’t create messages you think your audiences want to hear.  People want to hear truth and will respond to it.  For example, don’t say you’re green if you haven’t made real strides in the area.  Your words won’t ring true.

4.) “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”

So much fear still exists around embarking on social networking.

Complicated questions: “How can we control what our employees will do when given access? How will we respond if someone trashes our good name? We’re already so busy; how can we do it all? These are just a few of the questions we hear.

Simple answers: Trust your employees.  Criticism is unlikely for most businesses. When it does happen, respond transparently and your fans will come to your defense.  Social networks are where the conversations are happening.  Transition is a must.

5.) “I’m sorry to say so but, sadly it’s true that bang-ups and hang-ups can happen to you.”

Be prepared.  Create a crisis communications plan.  It’s one of those things, like a will, that you know you should have, but it’s easy to keep putting off.  Being prepared for anything will help ensure that you maintain a consistent message and increase the likelihood of preserving a positive reputation in the face of a crisis.

More great Dr. Seuss quotes worth remembering:

Wisdom from Dr. Seuss's "The Lorax"

Dr. Seuss encouragement

Dr. Seuss's simple wisdom

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