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Google+: Social Search Experiment

Google+: Social Search Experiment

November 9, 2011
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" Google+ is currently a tool for individuals; and trying to get an advantage at this stage of the game might cause companies more harm than good. "

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard about Google+ — a bold new experiment in social search that is not unlike the “likes” handed out by Facebook users — and one that is proving to be an excellent traffic-boosting tool.

But businesses beware: Google+ is currently a tool for individuals; and trying to get an advantage at this stage of the game might cause companies more harm than good, as accounts are being regularly closed, but help is coming, just around the corner.

Because Google+ represents a vision for the future of search (and thus traffic on the Internet), it’s important for that view to remain clear and unmolested by the dark forces of commerce — including fraudulent “pluses” registered by scammers seeking an edge.

To combat this, Google is demanding more user transparency, using its controversial “real names” policy to better identify (and qualify) its service users.

Google addressed concerns regarding its real names policy, issuing basic guidelines for name choices.

“Google+ makes connecting with people on the web more like connecting with people in the real world,” Google’s statement read. “Because of this, it’s important to use your common name so that the people you want to connect with can find you.”

The bulletin went on to describe its definition of “common name” and to outline the various prohibitions related to this commonality: for example, numbers, punctuation and special characters are not allowed; neither are company or pet names, nicknames, titles, or any other term not denoting a single, specific individual, i.e., no “Jones Family” or similar account names will be allowed.

It is also important to note that since Google’s services are increasingly being tied into such logins, that a “+” service violation may result in the loss of some other Google services associated with that account — and perhaps as importantly, any historical data.

And those service violations and account closures have been forthcoming, as has the outcry of a lack of commercially-oriented “plus” services.

Somewhat embarrassed by its uncharacteristic lack of foresight, Google is promising a rapid deployment of business profiles into its “plus” system.

“We prioritized making a great experience for people first,” Google’s Vic Gundotra stated in a blog post. “None of our internal models showed this level of growth. We were caught flat-footed.”

“This growth is very enticing for people/brands who crave an audience,” Gundotra added, asking corporate users to give Google “a little more time,” and saying, “We are doing all we can to accelerate the work to properly handle this case.”

According to Google+ product manager Christian Oestlien, the timeline for business profiles is a matter of months and sooner than had been planned, due to high demand.

“In the meantime, we ask you not to create a business profile using regular profiles on Google+,” Oestlien wrote. “The platform at the moment is not built for the business use case, and we want to help you build long-term relationships with your customers. Doing it right is worth the wait.”

Oestlien also offered a work-around: “find a real person who is willing to represent your organization on Google+ using a real profile as him-or-herself.”

In the porn game, that may be easier said than done.


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