Perhaps the most significant paradigm change in marketing in the past decade has been the rapid rise of social media. Blogging, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, coupled with the combination of video and podcast technologies, have created an environment where media ceases to be a gatekeeper and middleman — and where “word of mouth” recommendations (and negative reviews) can spread through the virtual space at the speed of light.
The new social media era requires an active commitment but thankfully only modest if any financial investment. You need to have the basics in place: A proper website, Facebook corporate page, some basic guidelines for your employees about social media best practices and, if you are working in the business-to-business space, a LinkedIn account and possibly a LinkedIn group are essentials — the others are, in my opinion, optional, depending on your skills, focus interest and market.
A new behemoth is about to appear on the social media space, however, Google Plus. This is Google’s strategic re-entry to the social media space after its failure with Buzz and mixed success with something called Orkut (which has, of all places, been surprisingly successful in Brazil and India, but has failed to catch on in the rest of the world.)
The Google Plus roll-out is proceeding at a controlled pace; much faster than Facebook, but still access is loosely restricted. I first heard about Google Plus through my work on one of the Google help forums, where I am a “Top Contributor” — a volunteer with some additional access to Google staff, to help others with problems that cannot be actually solved on the peer forum. Somewhat skeptical about any new product launch, I held off my excitement about Google Plus until finally opening my account last week. It is early going, but I think Google Plus will indeed give Facebook a run for its money, much as its Android phone system (along with Apple’s Ipad and Iphone) are causing havoc in Waterloo, Ontario, where Research in Motion oversees the Blackberry.
Probably I’ll learn more about Google Plus in September when I head to the Googleplex for a Top Contributor summit. If you are engaged with social media, I think you should put the new Google tool on your radarscope and if you are not, begin to think about the consequences of not adapting and connecting to these new resources. They are essential for any frugal and effective construction marketer.