The Google+ Project

It’s been a couple weeks since giant Google launched their latest effort in social, Google+. The search giant has had a couple false starts in their attempt to go social with both Google Wave and Google Buzz failing to catch users’ attention. However, from the buzz around the web, Google+ might just have the potential to rival the leader of social, Facebook.

What is Google+?

In short, Google+ is Google’s latest attempt at a social network. The official Google blog stated that,

“Today, the connections between people increasingly happen online. Yet the subtlety and substance of real-world interactions are lost in the rigidness of our online tools. In this basic, human way, online sharing is awkward. Even broken. And we aim to fix it.”

To facilitate ease of sharing, Google is integrating many of their current features and products into Google+ in the form of Circles, Sparks, Hangouts, and Mobile. They’ve also included a ‘Stream’, analogous to Facebook’s newsfeed or the Twitter stream – something social savvy users will find familiar. The constantly updating stream will aggregate updates and postings from all your friends in one place.


Circles are similar to Facebook lists, but easier and more intuitive. The premise behind circles is that people don’t want to share everything with everyone. For example, you most likely share different things with your friends than you do with you family, and you probably want to keep your weekend escapades separate from the information you share with your work contacts. You can easily do this by separating your contacts into different circles, such as ‘friends’, ‘family’, ‘work’ or a customized circle. To do this, simply click on a contact and drag them into the appropriate circle where they will only see the information you want them to see.



Sparks brings content to you automatically based on whatever ‘sparks’ your interest. Maybe you’re interested in cycling, dogs, cooking, or you’re a car enthusiast – sparks collects interesting content from across the internet and brings it right to you, on a separate page for each topic. It’s easy get started with Sparks, you type a topic of interest, such as ‘social media’ into the search box and, if you like the content that appears, you can click ‘Add Interest’ and social media will be added to your Sparks.

If you later decide you don’t want to follow a certain topic, it’s easy to delete it from your Sparks – simply hover over the topic you wish to delete and click the X.


This is basically video chat, with an added twist of being able to have a multi-person video chat. You can choose which friends, or even entire circles, you wish to video chat with, and anyone in the Hangout can invite their own contacts to join as well.



If you remember group messaging from the days of msn messenger, you’ll quickly understand the Huddle feature. Instead of having multiple similar conversations, you can instead start a Huddle where everyone can chat together. This feature could be incredibly useful for trying to make plans to get any group of people to meet all at one place at one time.

Instant Upload

Photos taken on your mobile phone will be automatically added, with your permission, to a private photo album in the Google cloud. This way, you can share them straight from Google+, without the hassle of traditionally uploading them. Many users fear only having a copy of their photos in the cloud, which is why it’s easy to backup your online images to your home computer using Google Takeout.


You can easily add your location to every post you make in Google+. Or not, the choice is up to you.


Social networks, most notably Facebook, have been notorious for their privacy issues. Google has tackled users’ privacy concerns by making it easy to customize your Google+ profile’s visibility. Your name and photo (if you upload one) are the only things that are public on your profile, everything else can be customized to private. Or, you can assign different levels of profile visibility to different circles. Furthermore, the names of your circles won’t be disclosed, not even to the people that are in them. So, feel free to put someone in the acquaintance circle without worrying about insulting them!

As with Facebook, you can block people you don’t want to interact with, and choose whether or not your profile is indexed by search engines.

How to join Google+

Currently Google+ is in Beta testing stage and  can only be accessed through invitation from a current Google+ user. If you have a friend already on Google+, ask them to invite you! Or, you can sign-up here with your Google ID and be notified when Google is allowing more users access to the testing stage.

If, once you’re a Google+ member, you decide it isn’t for you; you can downgrade your account by following the steps in this guide. Deleting just your Google+ account will leave your other Google accounts unaffected, or you have the option to delete your entire Google Account and all associated services.

Have you tried Google+? What do you think of it? Let us know below in the comments section.


Social Media Round Up

As always there has been a lot going on in the social media arena in the past week. This is a summary of the major (and minor!) developments.

Facebook Questions

On July 28th Facebook announced that it was going to launch Facebook Questions. The tool is set to allow you to crowdsource the collective intelligence of the 500 million and growing Facebook user base to ask questions and get answers. Set to compete with tools like Ask, Yahoo Answers and Answerbag, you will be able to ask any question and hopefully get the right answer practically instantaneously. The functionality isn’t live yet and is only available to a small number of beta testers but to find out more you can read this Mashable post about the 5 Ways Facebook Questions can be improved.

Google Wave

Google waved bye bye to its Wave product which was launched late last year. At the time there was much clamoring to get on the communication and collaboration tool which was supposed to allow people to easily work together online. Unfortunately, Wave didn’t really catch on and today it is no more. In typical Google fashion though, it would appear that they are turning the failure to their advantage. On a positive note Google yesterday announced that business can now respond to reviews on Google Places. Not before time.

Twitter Fail

The Twitter fail whale was omnipresent for much of the afternoon which prompted diehards to take to Facebook to voice their complaints and comments and to vent to relieve their anxiety withdrawal. This leads me to conclude that the Reuters article in today’s Washington Post highlighting a study that found that social media is costing businesses in the UK billions in lost productivity, could in fact be true across the Twitter world! Twitter is back up much to the disapointment of businesses in North America who saw productivity peak in the last few hours.

Introduction to Bookmarking

Bookmarking sites are sites on the Internet that allow you to share and save your online discoveries making it easier for you to keep track of those gems you discover online and intend to revisit. Not only do bookmarking sites allow you to bookmark the sites you like but they also allow you to connect with others who have similar interested and to share sites with them too. They also have an added benefit in that, if you use them effectively they will increase your online exposure.

Most bookmarking sites allow you to download a widget to your browser allowing you to easily bookmark sites that you like and want to share. Each time you find a site you like you can click to add it and to organize with appropriate tags.

Some of the most popular bookmarking sites are Reddit, Delicious, Stumble Upon and Digg for a more comprehensive list go to Wikipedia. These are all social networking sites: online hubs where people connect, build community and communicate and interact online. Like other types of social networks they can be very effective in driving traffic to your website, building online connections and increasing your online exposure.

If you think bookmarking sites may be a good tool to consider using as part of your Internet marketing strategy, you should take time to take a look at the sites above to ascertain which is most appropriate given your target audience and content (by exploring tags or categories and the type of sites contained therein). As with any social media marketing activity, to be effective you need to add value, be consistent and to connect and build community with others.

Using Social Media to Promote Events

Social Media tools are great for building awareness of what you do, for reaching and connecting with new audiences, for building and maintaining your networks and for driving targeted traffic to your website. Social networks are communities of people that connect and communicate online based on something they have in common. It makes sense therefore that social media tools can help you to promote events such as seminars, networking opportunities, concerts and sales.

You can use social media to promote practically any event but doing so takes time and effort. Here are a few pointers to bear in mind that will increase the likelihood of your success in using these tools to sell out your event.

Target Your Audience

Don’t try to submit your event to each and every event site out there, instead choose sites that are targeted to attract the desired audience. For example, if your event is in Vancouver and use Vancouver events site. If your event is a social one then post it on a “social” network like Facebook but if it is aimed at professionals, then LinkedIn will be a good tool to reach your target audience. If your event is aimed at the tech community then check out Techvibes but if its music oriented then Oscillations might be a better choice. The point here is that like any other marketing or promotional effort, online events promotion should be very specifically targeted to your intended audience.

High Ranking Events Sites

Only list on events sites with a page rank of 4 or higher. The higher the ranking the better from a search engine optimization perspective and the more likely your audience will be to actually find your event. A great multi purpose events site is with a high ranking is MeetUp – with a page rank of 7. It is better to submit to a few sites that get tonnes of traffic than to submit to lots of sites that hardly get any visitors.

Submit Events Consistently

If you start using social media to promote events then you should be prepared to do so consistently. Choose 5 -10 highly targeted events sites with a high page rank and submit all of your events to these sites and do so regularly. You will begin to build a following in these forums and the last thing you want to do is to annoy them with intermittent and inconsistent listings.

Events promotion lends itself well to social media because the inherent nature of an event is social. If you follow the 3 tips above, not only will you drive more awareness of your events but you will also be able to tap into the nature of social communities. If people enjoy your events they will be more likely to suggest them to others in their online communities and so the buzz will build.