Is Google Plus right for your Hotel Social Media?
Have you tried out Google Plus yet? After searching around a few days this weekend for an exploit to get in and check out the Google Plus platform we finally got in, and our first impression... it's brilliant. The easiest way to describe it would be a hybrid between Twitter and Facebook, hybrid is the easy follow nature of twitter, but the layout and streaming feature of Facebook will be easily recognizable. I've only been using it for 5 days or so, and it is difficult to say how things will shake out once it moves into becoming a more accepted platform, but initial response is great. There are a lot of high profile users on the platform right now, and all response seems favorable.
At this time, I've heard that Google is expecting to release the Google Business Pages later this year, so building a profile out for a Hotel won't work. I tried it with one of my test accounts, but it's conceivable that the CEO, owner, lead marketer, or concierge could personally start building out their name to brand as spokes person for the hotel.
Chris Brogan wrote an informative post called googleplus50 and was actually the first place I saw information on Google Plus. As usual, Chris has come up with some great insight that he obviously spent some time on. I'll take a stab at our own list, but our list came in at a shorter 10.
1. Layout - The layout is the definition of crisp, clean, and elegant, something you'd expect from the billionaire behemouth and jewel of Silicon Valley. It has enough of a familiar layout that people that know Facebook, won't be disappointed. It's intuitive, and it plugs in nicely with the rest of the Google products.
2. Ease of communication - I can't believe the number of comments and the ease at which people can interact. Let's use some of the Google Kingpins as an example. Both Larry Page, and Sergey Brin can easily be found, and then followed. By following these guys, you can actually communicate with them, and pretty easily. Try doing that on Facebook or Twitter!
3. User engagement - Seriously, Google Plus is way more engaging than any other Social Media platform. Ben Parr from Mashable just posted something 30 seconds ago, I saw the post come up, and responded to it immediately - Please react to the following phrase: "U.S. President Mark Zuckerberg." That's all he needed to say, and the comments came pouring in and 2 minutes later they're standing at 24 comments. I doubt he'd get that type of response from Twitter or Facebook, or anything else.
4. Sparks - Find stuff you're interested in. This allows users to follow using Google search technology, items that you're interested in. It's great to use this to find articles related to your field and post them out to twitter, or simply +1 them, and put them into your Google Plus +'s.
5. Can we say User engagement again? - I just left a comment on a post I wrote earlier this week on Web Analytics 2.0. The author Avinash Kaushik, a seriously well respected guy and considered to be one of Google's brightest responded to me, and that he actually read the post. People, this is power for the small business person, or Hotelier that is looking to gain immediate access to influential people.
6. Hangouts - This feature is something I've been waiting for Skype to have for years. Google Plus comes out with it, and already I'm trying to get my office mates to make the switch from Skype over to Google Plus. They're reluctant to start putting their entire lives out on the Internet, but the video chat feature is so useful, it's likely that we could.
7. Profile - The google profile and forcing to make people public is a bit of a daunting thought for a guy that likes to consider himself hiding out in the jungles of Mexico, which I am not doing, really! However, in this day and age, and generally even more for the younger generation, people are becoming more and more used to being public and online. Have you checked out the latest profile of a teenager lately, they're not scared to put anything up online, no matter how embarrassing. The profile is a quick and easy way for people to see a comment from you, quickly look up your Google Profile, and judge the synergy so they can quickly add you to their following circle. In that regard I quite like it, and I'm getting more used to being an online presence as I delve deeper and deeper in to the social media and Internet business.
8. Circles - For no particular reason did we leave the likely basis underlying the Google Plus project. Google seems to have found a fundamental weakness in Facebook's clunky group feature and the privacy issues that seem to plague the social media company that doesn't easily allow people to segment messages more naturally among their friends as they would in real life. In reality, I don't have many or any of my real friends using Google Plus yet, their not as geeked out as I am, but I do like the following circle. The following circle allows students like myself, to follow the social media powerhouses like Avinash, Chris Brogan, Jay Baer, and hear what they're talking about, plus their comments, and interact with them. The drag and drop feature which allows you to place certain users in multiple circles is a natural human activity, and likely one that the Google Engineers spent a lot of time thinking and focusing on. Well Done!
9. About Section - This is a feature rich section that allows multiple links, maps showing where you've lived, videos, and lots of photos. As Chris Brogan says - Marketers Rejoice.
10. Photo Display - Click on photos in the your G+ menus and you can click through a stunning photo light box with all the photos from people you're following. Try adding photographer Thomas Hawk to your following, and you'll see some great photos come across in your stream.
Well, I can't compete with a list of 50 because we've two other businesses that need attention, not to mention taking care of Hoteliers service needs. This is a start, and we'll be sure to add more once we become more accustomed to the Google Plus platform.
If you are a Mexican Hotelier and you haven't been able to get in to Google Plus, send us your email the comments section and we will invite you to chat.