Google Plus has been steadily gaining in numbers with the last stats revealing over 90 million users (January 2012). Even though those numbers pale in comparison to the social behemoth that is Facebook, that has resulted in significantly less noise than competing networks and those early birds who joined the race certainly got the worm.
Chris Lang has come from what seems like relative obscurity to being a dominant figure on Google+ with over 20,000 followers in 6 months. With little presence on other social networks, I became fascinated at his massive progress with no dependence on other social followings.
Despite a quiet presence on other networks, Lang has been very active with Google for a few years with early exposure breaking the news of Google becoming a social network on his blog in 2008. His blog evolved into something called “Google Friend Connect”, a way to understand what people wanted from social via Google.
On the opening day of Google+, Chris Lang had already attracted 2000 followers and has gone on to gain 20,000 in the 6 months since the social network’s debut. This has helped him gain the attention of publishing company Sybex who released the hugely successful Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day and has now asked Chris to write the upcoming Google Plus Marketing: An Hour A Day that will be released this summer.
FULL AUDIO INTERVIEW:
Interview With Chris Lang
Melonie Dodaro: Thanks so much for joining me today, Chris.
Chris Lang: It’s my pleasure. Thank you, Melonie.
Chris Lang: None of those really ever did it for me. When I first saw Google+ I was like, “What the heck is this? A wall site? After three years of waiting?” And then I realized that things like Hangouts and the cleanliness of the site, the lack of distraction, the fact is that there is a ton of conversion and a ton of engagement to be had there.
What most people forget about is that your following is saved in your Google Gmail contacts. We’ve all heard the horror stories of Facebook accounts being disabled. Well you can backup the contacts list from your Gmail contacts and that list is yours, you own it. It’s like having an email list.
Let’s say I decide I don’t want to use my Chris Lang profile anymore and I want to move it to another one. I can save all my contacts from Gmail, create a new profile, move all the contacts there and there’s my circles from all my people right back where they belong. Just some simple permissions here and there and you can come right back online. That’s what you can’t do with Facebook, that’s what you can’t do with Twitter. In fact, they don’t want you to export your stuff so you can use it off their site. Google is a lot more business friendly in that way I feel and I feel it’s the proper place for everybody.
Melonie Dodaro: Excellent. Yeah, those are some tremendous features. So how much time a day are you dedicating to Google+, specifically for growing your following and engaging with them?
Chris Lang: Well because Google+ has become my big focus with the new book from Sybex. I spend a lot of time there. I’ve always indicated you can’t be on all the social networks and I’ve always told people that you really need to make one your home and make the others more of an aggregated system
Melonie Dodaro: So what do you think the advantages are that Google+ has over the other big four social networks?
Chris Lang: Absolutely nothing except for the fact that your competition is not on Google+. Everybody’s on Facebook, everybody’s on Twitter. When you bring value to the people that follow you in your market and in your niche, you very quickly become the dominant user in their stream on Google+ and you end up in the circles where very few people are. You become a value added commodity rather then just another person that’s trying to sell them something.
Melonie Dodaro: Where do you think Google+ niche is going to be? LinkedIn, for example, is great for professionals and Facebook, in my opinion, is best for keeping in touch with family and friends. Do you think that Google+ is going to carve itself a niche in the social networking community?
Chris Lang: I believe that Google pages are going to see some unique features piled on for each type of page and unique tools for businesses are going to be supplied uniquely to pages and for that type of business. The first one that we feel will be developed are new tools for local businesses and we’ve been predicting for quite a while that local pages on Google+ will either replace places pages and maps or integrate with them highly. I myself am hoping for complete replacement.
Melonie Dodaro: Interesting yes Facebook has been widely criticized for the way that they handle Facebook business pages but I think that you know there’s a lot of talk about Google+ being you know a lot more friendly to businesses especially with the increased search engine rankings when you have a Google page for your business. So it’ll be interesting to see what happens there.
Chris Lang: One thing that’s been going on since the very first days of Google profiles when we created one of the first ones in 2008, the only one I could find earlier than ours was Robert Scoble and even going back to 2008 your Google profile back then ranked highly under your name and we’re not yet seeing pages rank highly except for major brand pages under their brand name. When we start to see local pages replacing places pages listings and we believe that’s going to be the first big integration as Google is all about local. Google is all about local search especially with the indirect platform then I think we’re going to start to see true page implementation.
Melonie Dodaro: What features of Google+ do you think have great potential for business use?
Chris Lang: Hangouts are the killer tool and we’ve seen a lot of people make some big inroads already using hangouts. Lynette Young of the “Women of Google+” is one of the first to really do this well. She has a Monday night show where she doesn’t really so much interview another authority, she hangs out with them, and you get to see a real world conversation. We want to see what you look like. We want to make that connection through the browser, not to mention it’s free.
Melonie Dodaro: What are a couple of the most important tips for anyone getting into Google Plus?
Chris Lang: Number one, of course, is to use a nice high-resolution picture because that Facebook thumbnail just isn’t good enough anymore. Google+ allows you to upload 12MB high-res, professional headshots. You need to craft your About Page very well and the About Page is completely misunderstood. It should not be about you, it should be about what kind of value you’re going to deliver to the people that are either considering following you or that are in your target market.
Brick and mortar businesses should put a coupon on a page. It’s the number one reason that anyone follows a brand in the last two years on Facebook. 60% of all people that follow a brand on Facebook want a coupon from your brick and mortar business or from your online brand that they can use in a store.
Give the people what they want. Always fill out that About Page and make it about your visitor. Give us a nice, big and professional headshot. If you can’t afford a private photographer, go down to Sears and for $69 you can get a professional headshot taken. The Facebook pixilated image that most people have uploaded is easily the number one thing that turns me off right away.
Melonie Dodaro: What kinds of topics are going to be addressed in your upcoming book?
Chris Lang: We plan to bring a translation of the marketing tactics that are used to make millions online in many different venues and apply those to exact feature points within Google+ and that’s what makes me unique. I’m an average, everyday guy so rather than trying to translate what works for someone famous that may not work for you because the big famous people are a hit no matter what they do. Seth Godin can write his blog on toilet paper and I’ll read it, however what works for them doesn’t maybe work for the brick and mortar business or the average person like me or the person that really has a business to run and can’t spend all day on Google+. They need to make the right move, the first time and convert and know that it was exactly the right move and never look back on it and think they made a mistake and testing and tracking and measuring is incredibly important. When you know how to use testing and tracking and measurement then you allow yourself not to worry about what you did right, you can find out what you did wrong and never do it again.
Melonie Dodaro: That’s funny because I was interviewing a celebrity recently and he was sharing with me some of his philosophies on social media and you know he’s doing great with social media. He’s obviously got a large profile and following but he’s a celebrity and so as he was sharing some things with me I was wanting to share with him that there’s some things that he could be doing differently to get better results and then I realized when it comes to a celebrity, they can almost do anything and get away with it but for the average person and the average business owner, they need to know the proper ways of doing things. There is a certain kind of etiquette with the different social networks and it does vary from social network to social network. I love what you said, “What works for some people, especially celebrities or really high profile people, doesn’t necessarily work for the average person.” Each person needs to have a unique strategy that fits their model.
Chris Lang: And you need to try some new things too. Make sure you craft content for the particular place and find your home online.