Over holidays, I read two books that I enjoyed very much: Google + For Business by Chris Brogan and True North Groups by Bill George and Doug Baker. Each book in their own unique way touts the benefits of engaging our peers. Fortunately, Chris Brogan and Bill George have agreed to answer questions about their recent work for us here on Executive Street. This week, let’s talk to Chris about Google+ For Business.
By way of a brief introduction, Chris Brogan is president of Human Business Works, a media and education company. He consults and speaks professionally with Fortune 100 and 500 companies like PepsiCo, General Motors, Microsoft, and more, about the intersection of business, technology and media. He is a New York Times bestselling co-author of Trust Agents, and a featured monthly columnist at Entrepreneur Magazine. Brogan’s blog, [chrisbrogan.com], is in the Top 5 of the Advertising Age Power150.
After admiring Chris Brogan’s tireless work ethic for a number of years through the lens of social media, I was fortunate enough to meet Chris in person last year and hear him speak at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Los Angeles and at a Vistage All-City event in Chicago. Sharing New England roots, we also share a passion for social media and the difference it can make in people’s personal and professional lives. After reading Trust Agents, which he co-authored with Julian Smith, I was eager to read his latest book Google+ For Business, and I thoroughly enjoyed it! I asked Chris if he would answer a few questions about his latest work. By the way, that work ethic I mentioned is exceeded only by his generosity, so as you would expect, Chris agreed to join us here on Executive Street.
LB: Chris, welcome! Let me start by noting that your book about Google + isn’t just a garden variety “how-to” manual, but a book specific to how it can help your business. What prompted you to take that path?
CB: I couldn’t write a ‘how to’ book about a software for any dollar amount. I’d lose my mind. I’m a business person who uses technology to make business. The kind of book a CEO or business leader would want to read is a book that helps you understand just how this platform, Google+, will allow someone to do any kind of business whatsoever.
LB: I had mentioned to you during one of our conversations that I struggled with Google + at first because I felt I was already managing too many social media platforms as it was. Please tell our Executive Street community why adding Google+ to their social media portfolio can be beneficial for them and their business?
CB: First off, deciding that you can’t start a new social platform is like saying, “I’m refusing to prospect in this channel full of millions of people to see whether or not I can find thousands of potential new leads – or hundreds, or the right 20 for your company.” There are millions (closing in on 100 million) users on Google+ already and they span many different walks of life, and not just tech. Secondly, you need only look at the recent HUGE change to Google search, where results from Google+ are factored into search and you’ll see that if no one’s talking about you, referring your brand, or friends with your profiles on that site, your search results will be pushed down a little by this new social medium.
LB: You offer some terrific advice about the importance of crafting a solid profile. Without giving away too much, tell us more about that.
CB: I love giving too much away! Why not? First, use a human picture as your avatar photo. Why use a logo? People make relationships with people, not with logos. Second, create your profile such that prospective customers, clients, referral partners, etc, will know exactly what business you’re in, what part of the business you represent, and how you intend to help them. Also, add as much contact information as you can. Give people a few ways to contact you: on platform, off platform, and via your website or contact list, etc.
LB: For those familiar with Google+, circles are the primary organizing feature of the platform. Chris, tell us what you mean by inbound versus outbound circles and how they can help business leaders.
CB: You group who you choose to pay attention to and who you choose to post information out to into groups called “circles.” This is any number of users bunched together by whatever name you want to assign to that circle. For instance, you could name a circle “large scale prospects” and name another “lead gen.” Then, you can choose to send different information or different levels of information to those people via selecting which circle you address when posting information. NOTE: if the person hasn’t chosen to follow you back, they might not ever see the post you created. This system requires reciprocity.
LB: Finally, in the latest Vistage CEO Confidence Index, we learned that 60% of CEOs said they were using social media to grow their business. LinkedIn and Facebook were far and away the most popular platforms for these CEOs. Tell us what you think we’ll learn this time next year about how many CEOs are engaging in social media and where they are doing so.
CB: Retailers are already reporting huge results from the +1 functionality in Google+ versus the Facebook Like function. I believe that, the changes in search, the strength of a huge company like Google behind it, plus the ability to talk serendipitously with people aligned around INTEREST instead of around personal network, such as Facebook is set up, give us a recipe for some strong adoption by CEOs.
LB: Chris, thank you again for sharing your insights with us. For more information about Chris Brogan and Google+ For Business, click on the links provided within the interview and get yourself a copy of the book!