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Google Plus

Google+'s Slick Recommend Unit

I really like this Google+ implementation. When you hover over the + button (alongside other sharing units like Facebook and Twitter), it expands to show related Google+ content. Slick UI and relatively unintrusive experience. And lots of opportunity to mix different content types within the overlay.

Google+ Interactive Ad Layer

I have written before about Google / Google Plus and their interactive, actionable ad units (here is a great example from Google Offers and one for Google's emailable ads here). Below is an example of Google Plus being integrated into an otherwise standard ad unit. Natural evolution and integration here - it sits atop the add and creates a social layer that:

1. The brands welcome. There is action and benefit beyond the click-through.

2. Google loves. They drive usage of Google Plus and give advertiser another medium to extract & measure value.

Should Facebook Ads move off-Facebook.com - these interactions will be really key (point 2 here).

Google Takes to ESPN to Promote Google Plus, Group / Event Followings

If you've been watching any television recently, you've surely seen the barrage of ad spots for Google Chrome, Google Plus, and Internet Explorer 9. I understand Google's effort but am generally confused by advertising specifically for IE9... which can't be as effective / meaningful as focusing on Windows Mobile. Anyhow... the point is that Google took to ESPN.com yesterday to cleverly promote Google Plus alongside the NCAA Tournament. It's well done because it's relevant, good looking and ties into the product very well (circles!). Most interesting is how it ties directly into the product - each NCAA team is "followable" on Google+ and there are scheduled Hangouts with analysts, teams, etc.

Really well done and an interesting twist as they try to differentiate from Facebook and Twitter... and the two areas where they can stand out:

Hangouts (the star of the product) and Media / Lists (something Twitter hasn't nailed yet)

Google+ Navigation Crowded with Google+ Promotions.

Here's the Google+ right column. It's getting awfully crowded / busy and its one large promotion for Google+ functions / features: - Google's universal notification header - a floating YouTube search tool (when clicked it expands and plays videos in a mini-browser) - my friends and suggested uesrs to add to circles - Google+ invitations (although anyone can now register) - ability to start a Hangout (Google+'s best feature) - ability to create a Google+ page - Google+'s "Games" center and links to popular / featured games

I am not sure how I feel about. Clearly it differs from Facebook and that's in part because Google is still fighting for adoption and engagement. For instance, it is more beneficial for Google to promote tools than it is to insert ad units. However, this is essentially a vertical-ized version of the horizontal navigation bar that rests atop every page. It's cluttered, redundant and frankly ineffective at doing what Google wants it to do: drive deeper usage. For all the criticism that Facebook's Ticker has received, it is clearly a more powerful usage driver than this is.

Google+ Shared Circles Causes Surge in Followers

Yesterday Google+ created shareable, public circles. And, as power user Robert Scoble suggested, engagement and usage has surged. In less than a day, I've had over 1,000 people follow me. That is entirely attributable to the new shared circles which are facilitating easier and more effective 'findability'. When people like Scoble curate lists for themselves - and then choose to share them publicly - they are clearly high quality.

Facebook Search = Social Graph + Like Graph

Twitter search is becoming more intelligent and powerful. Google Search is becoming more social.

And here's an example of Facebook doing both:

search displaying on-and-off Facebook content organized by your friend's like's & activity. This is highly useful: using your social graph and the "like graph" to filter beyond Facebook. In a way, it's Google's +1 vision.

Search is changing. And it's happening from different perspectives (Twitter:real time; Google: applying social to core; Facebook:leveraging the social + like graph). Fascinating to watch and each has its own merits depending on the circumstances / needs.

Three Must Have Google Plus Extensions

I have written a fair amount about Google Plus and about how Google Chrome / Chrome extensions are changing my web behaviors. Lets put those two themes together... here are three great Google Plus Chrome extensions: 1. +Photo Zoom

I have glowingly written about the Facebook Photo Zoom extension and how every website should leverage this sort of interaction. I love it. And here it is for Google Plus.

2. +Everything

Add the Google Plus header to your web experience. I wrote it about it here:

3. +Comment Toggle

One major design flaw of Google Plus is the commenting system... which can get overwhelming very quickly. This extension fixes it.

Google Plus Now My #3 Referring Site.

Google Plus now has 20m+ users and a the press can't get enough of it. The obvious question is what does engagement look like both near and long-term. One indicator is referral traffic. So here is a look at referrals to www.ryanspoon.com. Obviously it not the ideal example - but content is shared equally across Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus. So it is fair... Here are two charts of the top referring sites.

First, for all of July (note that Google Plus was days old on July 1):

Google Plus still trails Facebook and Twitter. Google Plus represents about 55% of Twitter's referrals... to put that in perspective, I have ~5x the followers on Twitter than I do on Google Plus. Clearly there is a higher engagement ration there.

The last week (Google Plus now more open & popular):

Over the last week Google Plus is the #3 referring site and ahead of Twitter and Facebook. Clearly this is imperfect data since Facebook and Twitter shifted markedly over the month (historically they are about even) but it is impressive that:

1. Google Plus is making a significant contribution just a couple weeks into launch 2. Google plays such a meaningful in referral traffic: Google, SEO, SEM, Plus, etc.

Of course this has real implications for marketers & brands and how they should think about leveraging / interacting on Google Plus. Furthermore, it is a powerful position for Google (should the trend continue) because they can begin connecting the properties (SEO, SEM, Plus, .com)... which in turn will cause marketers (and their budgets) to dedicate themselves further to Google.