Friday, July 22, 2011

Brands Want to Invade GooglePlus

Google+ (GooglePlus) is rapidly growing, to put it mildly. I'm honored to be included in the early adaptor beta testing program for GooglePlus. I call it the Disney Land of social media, because there's so much to do and see there.

But wait. There's more. An group of entities called "brands" is desperately trying to break into the new online community. These companies and businesses have even tried to sneak in or bully their way in, and have been slapped down, thank goodness.

Google wants to keep its GooglePlus data "clean", i.e. free from commmercial pollutants. Google is tracking what we say, what we link to, what we do on Google+ to improve search engine performance.

But the brands want in. They demand the right to join our party. Brands can't wait to start slinging their spammy sales hype at everybody. Brands think consumers like to interact with brands. Brands are greedy and opportunistic. They suck.

I say it everywhere I go on the internet, and I'll say it again. Nobody joins a social network to receive sales messages. People are on social media to meet others with shared interests, to interact with other people, to ask questions, and to engage in human communication that is mutually satisfying.

If we like a company, we appreciate having updates on new products and upgrades and contests, but we don't want to be flooded with one-way broadcast sales messaging, as though social media was just another advertising platform to exploit.

A business that gets on a social media platform should provide expertise, share interesting information that doesn't always necessarily lead to increased sales. I call this corporate altruism "non-commercial interaction". Social media and blogs are a way for companies to overcome the common perception that they're cold, aloof, uncaring, non-sharing, greedy, deceptive, arrogant, and exploitive.

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When I stated this fact on Google+ as a comment to a thread, I received this rebuke from Jonathan Torres


+Steven Streight As someone who makes a living representing brands, I find your comment to be somewhat ignorant and myopic. Through your interaction and by providing your "expertise" are you not promoting or "selling" yourself? As with Facebook, if not for the brands and businesses spending time and money to distribute their their sales hype, these companies could not generate revenue to remain in operation. One can only go to the VC well so many times to stay afloat. Besides all of that, joining a page or following a brand is voluntary. If you don't like it, don't like it or follow it. It's that simple.


I've seen many brands exploit Twitter and Facebook, and mismanage their corporate blog, by using them as one-way broadcast platforms, instead of human interaction zones.

Here's my reply to Jonathan Torres, plus some reactions.


Steven Streight's profile photoSteven Streight+Jonathan Torres I also make a living representing brands on social media. I try to do it in an altruistic manner, interacting with people in the name of the company, and I'm up front about who I am and what I'm doing for the brands I represent and speak on behalf of. But I assure you, nobody joins a social network to receive spammy sales messages. Many brands do not behave like human beings on social media, they merely crank out sales hype. They don't interact. They don't answer questions, They don't say what they did for Memorial Day. They are vending machines, thus missing the opportunity to negate the impression that businesses are greedy, selfish, arrogant, and uncaring.

Jonathan Torres's profile photoJonathan Torres - +Steven Streight In that, I agree. Unfortunately, many of these brands are applauded for their efforts regardless simply because they have large fan bases and big budgets.

Steven Streight's profile photoSteven Streight - Who REALLY wants to interact with a brand on social media? Not me, unless they answer questions, provide good customer service and discounts, share their expertise in a non-commercial manner, etc. Apart from that altruism, brands suck on social media.
Erin Kinikin's profile photo
Erin Kinikin - Nice comment, +Steven Streight Reads like a requirements list for Google+ business pages!


When a business gets on social media, of course there will be sales messages, discounts, deals, product news, and other self-serving information to distribute to those who might be interested. There's no denying that brands can successfully use social media to attract new customers and engage loyal fans.

Google+ has announced that there will be a way for business to join the online community, but it is not ready yet. Did the brands respect that reality, or did some of them act pig-headed, stubborn, demanding, and try to force their way in?

There was a bit of a rough road in this process and some pundits are criticizing Google+ for not letting the brands in right along with the human beta testers and early adaptors.

TechCrunch did an article on this subject entitled "Vic Gundrotra on How Google+ Handled Brands: It Was Probably a Mistake".

Here's the first comment posted under the TechCrunch post.


Jason Stapels · Apalachin, New York

1) Google releases Google+ for personal profiles to a private invite-only beta.
2) Google+ becomes a much bigger success than expected.
3) Brands immediately want in on the action.
4) Google says Google+ isn't ready for brands yet.
5) Brands don't care and do it anyways.
6) Google pulls brands pages because, as it said, they're not ready yet.
7) Brands get pissed at Google... because they're private beta is ready for brands yet?

What's the lesson to be learned here? Don't let your product become popular until it's ready? I understand it can be frustrating for a brand to not get free advertising, but I don't think Google is to blame here.


Yes, there will be Google+ Business pages coming soon. And yes, I'll offer to represent my clients on this commercial platform or at least help them get started and navigate the waters.

But capitalism has created its own negative publicity through its grasping and lustful behavior when it comes to our wallets. This whole Brands vs. Google+ fiasco reminds me of how telemarketers demand the right to spam us during our dinner. They want to use the telephone, our communication tool, to flood us with unsolicited sales hype. And they never offer to put any of it in writing.

Let the frenzied brands cool down and be rational for once. It might do them some good. In the meantime, you and I can enjoy great interactions, with human people, and not automated hype machines or callous snake oil salesmen and carnival barkers. Nice.

Here's the obituary on how BoingBoing tried to sneak into Google+ with what I believe was a Fake Intern account or something. It's so weird and convoluted.


º º º º º º KILL JILL º º º º º º

Did she died? Yes. +Jackhammer Jill ("Jackhammer Jill" on Google+) is no more.

I've been talking with BB friends here on Google+, and I've been talking with the Google+ team at Google, and today we decided to let our "Boing Boing intern" die. Just seems kind of pointless, given that they're pushing so hard to do biz/org/brand support right as soon as possible, and seems silly to continue this workaround in light of the past 24 hours of internet-handwringing around the 'net. To be clear, nobody "told us to," and we don't regret experimenting eagerly, and early. Just seems time to kill an intern, and publish a "Sad Guy" GIF.

I have much more to say, and will do so separately—I'm fascinated by all of the discussions and new ideas Google+ has sparked in lo these last... two weeks? But for now, a moment of silence, and a single tear.


P.S. There is also a backlash going on against Google+ introducing Farmville and Mafia Wars type games to the social media platform. Check out Chris Brogan's thread on Google+ games.

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