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The Prohibition Seven Days of Social

3256859352_cf35412c5f_zFast moving, always adapting and often controversial, social media is an area where many of us have divided opinions. We like to keep our ear to the ground in the social media world, and as the week comes to an end, we’ve put together a few of our favourite pieces of social media content from around the web that you might not have spotted.

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Violation of Google’s Guidelines Will Result in Damaged PageRank

Google’s latest announcement has made it official that selling page links and including paid-for placements on your blog can and will damage your PageRank. In the announcement Matt Cutts, Google’s Head of Web Spam stated that ‘selling links (or entire advertorial pages with embedded links) that pass PageRank violates our quality guidelines, and Google does take action on such violations.’ Such action has been taken out recently on the florist giant Interflora for breaking Search Engine Optimisation guidelines by manipulating links to improve its PageRank. Penalisation of Interflora is the latest proof that even the largest brands are not immune to Google’s rules and regulations.

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The 10 Best April Fools Stunts

Google
Regular pranksters Google certainly did not disappoint this year! Now I could probably write a whole post purely on Google’s April Fools stunts from yesterday, but I’ll cut to the chase:

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Five PR Tips for Google+ Brand Pages

When Google+ first launched, it was limited to only personal accounts, restricting businesses from creating Google+ profiles. However, Google+ Pages are now available for personal and business use alike. The service is rather similar to Facebook in concept, being a social media site, but it is a bit more restrictive. For example, you cannot contact someone who has not already added you to their circle. That complicates advertising and marketing, but it does not lessen the importance of creating a Google+ Page. Once you get your Google+ up and running, here are some PR tips to make it worth your while.

  1. Create a Redirect or Shortened URL for Your Page
    Right now, Google+ Page web addresses are horribly ugly. With Facebook and Twitter you can create a reasonably shorted URL that people can use to visit your profile; on Google+ it is plus.google.com/ followed by a long string of random numbers and letters. There are a variety of free services that can shorten a URL for you, or you can simply create a redirect link on your domain. Whatever method you chose, be sure to make your Google+ Page URL something that people can easily remember.
  2. Link to Your Google+ Page
    While Google+ Pages limit you to communicating only with people who have added you to your circle, you have no such limitations on your website, Facebook or Twitter. Be sure to add links to your Google+ Page on all of your sites and social networking accounts to help people find your page and be aware that you have one. Google suggests that you put your Google+ badge on all of your sites, which takes visitors directly to your Google+ Page, allowing them to add you to their circle.
  3. Put Content On Your Page
    Driving visitors to your Google+ Page doesn’t accomplish much if you don’t have any information on the page, or if it simply is a link back to your website. Your effort should be to create a page that will cause people to want to add you to their circle. Once you are in someone’s circle, you have officially opened the lines of communication on Google+. This space is also an excellent advertising board, allowing you to put up information about new products and services or any sales or specials that are going on.
  4. Communicate with People Who Have Added You to Their Circle
    Once people begin to add you to their circle, start taking advantage of it. Those circle additions are hard won prizes, so be sure to use them to promote your company. This can involve updating people of additions to your Google+ Page, letting them know when new content is added to your website or even letting people know about contests you are offering. The advantage of having a contact list based on people who have added you to their circle is you know they have some sort of interest in you, or they would not have added you.
  5. Put Someone In Charge of Your Google+ Page
    If you have a social networking department, you’ve probably already done this, but be sure to assign a person or department (or digital PR Agency) to keeping up your Google+ Page. You’ll want to keep it updated and take advantage of marketing options when people add you to their circle, but you also want to be sure to respond to feedback sent to your Google+ account. People are frequently using social media sites to voice concerns or kudos to companies; be sure to read and respond to yours because ignoring social media communications is poor customer service.

Sam is an Internet marketer who is in charge of his company’s social media monitoring and he is always on the lookout for new tools to help him do his job more efficiently.

Google + brands = ?

The June launch of Google+ was met with a mixture of intrigue and bemusement. Intrigue because social media has become such a phenomenon in the second decade of the 21st Century that anything new inevitably provokes curiosity. Bemusement for much the same reason – in an online world which offers Facebook and Twitter, who needs a third mass market social network?

Of course Google+ is not the search giant’s first venture into social media. 2010 saw the launch of its previous attempt – Google Buzz – but this was severely criticised at launch for lax default privacy settings. In particular, users’ most frequent Gmail contacts were openly displayed on their profile pages. Although such security holes were later plugged, Buzz never recovered from the bad publicity and last month, Google announced the discontinuation of the service.

To date, Google+ has fared better and after a wobbly exit from an invitation-only beta status, this brand new and shiny social network is open to all. For those who spend their social media lives bouncing giddily between Facebook and Twitter, Google+ still excites little interest, but in spite of widespread indifference, a modest but growing user base has begun to develop. Google+ offers some advantages – a much less cluttered interface, as well as an innovative ‘circles’ feature for easy contact and friend tracking, but the site is still a very long way from competing with Facebook’s global audience.

Google’s latest addition to the network is Google+ Pages, their answer to Facebook’s feature of the same name. Pages allow brands, companies and organisations to establish a promotional presence on the network and were unveiled earlier this month to a decidedly mixed reaction.

More positive commentators have hailed the intriguing innovations available in Pages, including:

  • *The ability to add a brand page to your Google+ circles straight from a search results page.
  • *Access to ‘hangouts’ (live audio/ video chats) – providing an excellent way for brands to talk directly to their fans on Google+.
  • *The ability to place followers of a particular brand page into different categories and share different content with each. (Of course, the latter option depends on the Google+ Circles function).

But most of the reaction has centred on the things Google+ brand pages cannot do. There is, for example, no ability for more than one person to administer a page, and extraordinarily for Google, no analytics are available. Custom URLs are not available, and admins cannot run contests or promotions.

Respected tech journalist Robert Scoble highlights the many difficulties that will be faced by large companies trying to maintain brand pages when only a single member of staff can administer them. Scoble is so unhappy with Google+ brand pages in their current form he delivers the unambiguous verdict: “I wish I’d never heard of them”, adding “Google, did you really think this through?”

No doubt Google+ brand pages will evolve and develop over time. But there is something very Google about the launch. The world’s premier search engine has so much power and so much money that it can get away with half-finished product launches that would cripple a less influential firm and kill a start-up. They know full well that the power of the Google brand will draw people to brand pages whatever their shortcomings. As website Search Engine Watch put it: “Google Brand Pages Lacking, But You’ll Make One Anyway”.