Automating Google + Postings – Follow-up

In this previous post about automating social media content, particularly as it applies to the new Google + pages for business, I indicated that I “requested” such automation from HootSuite and I would keep you posted.   The short version is, it’s not widely available yet. Here’s the email I received from HootSuite in response to my request. I think I mentioned that I fully expected to get some sort of sales pitch, which I did, although a subtle one referring to their Pro Plan along with a promotion code for their University isn’t evasive at all. Thumbs up, Hootsuite.

Hello Brent,

Recently you applied for access to Google+ Pages in the HootSuite dashboard. We want to thank you for taking the time to fill out our form and appreciate your patience as we roll out this new tool.

As this is a limited release, access is limited to HootSuite Enterprise clients at this time. However, we look forward to expanding the offering in the near future.

In the meanwhile, we’ve prepared a special coupon to say “Thanks” – Please redeem this coupon for a free month of HootSuite University, our professional certification program to help you learn advanced tips and techniques for using social media in general, and HootSuite specifically.


Not a HootSuite Pro user yet? Visit and sign up for a 30-day free trial of HootSuite Pro featuring unlimited social network profiles and much more.

If you’d like to learn more about HootSuite Enterprise, we encourage you to request a demo to learn how our leading security, team workflow and engagement tools can help your business.

Also, we appreciate your feature requests and encourage you to contribute your ideas to the feedback forum.

With Thanks,

The HootSuite Team

Customizing your Google+ Page for Business

… this is a continuation of the blog postings I started last week about creating a Google+ page for business…

Once you’ve “created” your Google+ Business page, Google asks you to provide a “Tagline” for the page. Like the title of the page, the tagline is a good place to include some keywords. And since it’s not clear from Google’s screens whether the tagline is going to be presented/displayed on the page, or whether this is simply for tagging/SEO purposes, it is best to try to kill two birds with one stone: in order words, make the tag line serve tagging/SEO purposes but do so in a manner that involves a comprehensive, grammatically correct sentence.

Next you’ll upload your profile photo, and since Google+ makes it easy to separate your “activity” between your personal persona and your business persona, you can upload a different avatar graphic for your business page and you can easily swap between your personal “self” and business “self” as your activity warrants. That’s nice.

Now you have your business page, which at the beginning looks very similar to your personal Google+ page — in a word, empty.  So add some “streams” (which is the Google word for Facebook’s “Status” updates. If you have videos upload to YouTube, Google+ makes it easy to find them and embed them (which stands to reason, since Google owns YouTube)… so that’s an easy place to start.

Coming up we’ll talk about automating some posts to Google+ so you start to easily generate some content on your Google+ business page, and other tactics you should start to pursue since you now have a presence on Google+.

Google Plus Profiles vs. Pages

… continuing this series on Google Plus that was started a couple posts ago…

Once you “join” Google Plus as a user, after completing your set-up, you see a page that looks something like this:

Not too much there yet. Thus begins the process of building up this new social media presence according to your own personal goals, wants, and desires. But today, we’ll focus on the little link along the right-hand side that says “Create a Google Page” which takes you to this:

Already that are some problems, or at least, potential areas of confusion, when it asks you to classify the type of “business” you are creating a Google Page for. Here are the choices:

  • Local Business or Place (and Google provides examples like hotels, restaurants, places (?), stores, services
  • Product or brand (examples like apparel, cars, electronics, financial services (?)
  • Company, Institution, or Organization (companies, institutions, organizations, non-profits — thanks, Google, because that was so unclear by the category name)
  • Arts, Entertainment, Sports (movies, TV, music, books, sports, shows)
  • Other (if your page doesn’t fit a category above)

There are two problems with this screen:

1. Google doesn’t tell you WHY you are classifying it.  Is there a difference in how the resulting pages look? Does one receive different functionality? Or does Google simply want to know what kind of advertisements to send you?  Tell us why you’re asking this question, Google, and the 2nd problem with this screen becomes a little less problematic.

2. The second problem revolves around category #2 – Product or Brand.  I’ll bet the hotel that is used an example for Category #1 considers themselves a brand, especially if they’re going through the trouble of making a Google Plus page.  Outskirts Press probably falls into the catch-all Category #3 (in fact, what wouldn’t?  I mean, Google Pages are meant for businesses, so everything is probably a “company” or “organization” of some sort).  But even though Category #3 might define us best, I also consider Outskirts Press a “brand” – so should I choose #2, instead? Who knows… Google isn’t telling me WHY I’m having to classify my page.  

This all becomes a matter of trial and error, and it doesn’t even tell you that if you want to change your mind later, you can.  So… make your best guess: That’s what I’m going to do.  “Company, Institution, or Organization” sounds so boring, so I’m going to choose Product or Brand. Hey, if Google suggests it for “financial services (really, Google, really?!), then it works for us at Outskirts Press!

In reality, it doesn’t seem like Category #2 and Category #3 behave any differently as far as Google is concerned. Both result in providing you with a drop down box during the next step with a list of more specific categories (and the drop down choices appear to be exactly the same, with the exception of general categories that appear at the very bottom of the drop down box). “Publishing” or “self-publishing” isn’t in either one (which is surprising, given Google’s in-your-face experience with publishers during their Google Book Library Project, but that’s a post for another day).

Regardless of the category you choose, Google Plus is going to ask you to “Title” your page.  Just like when you title your book or buy a big neon sign for your local business,  your goal when giving your Google page a title is including a keyword  (in this case, for search engine optimization). So be sure your Google Page title includes your most relevant keyword. Then provide the URL to your company website, select a category (again), set age-appropriate specifications based upon the content you’re going to post, and agree to Google’s invasive “Page Terms.”  If you can be bothered to read it, these specific terms are broken down into three categories: Privacy Policy (you don’t get any); Legal Terms (things you post on your Google page must comply with other Google terms — i.e. promotions need to abide by their Content and Promotion Policies, and text, images, etc., must comply by their User Content and Conduct Policy); and Content Policy. 

Humorously, Google’s Content Policy (a list of 12 things they “don’t allow”) clearly demonstrates that the employees of Google have never bothered to visit the Internet. Here’s what they say isn’t allowed:

1. Illegal Activities
2. Malicious Products
3. Hate Speech
4.  [Sharing] Personal and Confidential Information
5. Account Hijacking
6. Child Safety {they mean child exploitation}
7. Spam
8. Ranking Manipulation
9. Gambling
10. Sexually Explicit Material
11. Violent or Bullying Behavior
12. Impersonation or Deceptive Behavior

Hey, Google! Allow me to be the first to welcome you to the Internet. You’ve just listed 12 of the most common things you’ll find on it…

Then click “Create…” and the next step is customizing your page, which we’ll discuss next week…

Google Plus and Facebook

This week’s series of post involves Google+, setting up a personal account and using Google+ business pages for your company’s promotional efforts. Yesterday’s post focused on setting up a personal Google+ account and finished with clicking the Join button. Once you’ve joined Google+, you see this screen: 

Google+ wants to find people to add to your account for you.  I’m probably not the first to suggest this, but allow me to suggest to Google clearly, visually, what this screen should look like to actually be useful both for the user, and for Google in their effort to compete with Facebook:

Yes, Google+ would be much better if it could automatically populate friends/associates from Facebook accounts. But, of course, that’s the rub, isn’t it?  Facebook doesn’t allow Google to aggregate or spider its content (that’s part of the reason Google had to invent its own social network).  You might say Facebook has created its own, largest competitor.  And, in reality, the fact that content on Facebook doesn’t translate to SEO (search engine optimization) but content on Google+ does will mean that businesses may find more and more reason to spend their time on Google+.

But, that’s in the future. Now, there’s no denying that Google+ has its work cut out for it, and this first screen on Google+ is one example of the hill it has to climb.   

… stay tuned…

Google Plus For Business – Part One

Google launched Google+ in June 2011, which Mark Zuckerberg described as Google “… trying to build their own little version of Facebook.”  He’s right. If you look at Google+ you immediately see the similarities, so much so I’d be surprised if Facebook lawyers weren’t contemplating a suit. But that’s a posting for a different blog.  This one involves using Google Plus for business.

Of course, up until November,  you couldn’t use Google+ for business, not really. But in early November, Google+ launched business pages for their new social networking site, so now’s the time to write about how to set-up and use Google+ (Google Plus) for business.

First, you need to create a Google+ account at

Doing this requires you have your own Google account, which perhaps you have already set-up for Google Alerts, or many of the other services Google offers.   Enter your first name, last name, gender, and year of birth. All self-explanatory. Then upload a photograph, and if you’re an author, I would recommend uploading the same professional image you use on the back of your book and for all your book marketing efforts. 

So far, this is basically the same as Facebook in that I created a “personal profile” on Facebook prior to creating a Facebook Page for Outskirts Press.  Their close association has always prevented me from truly using Facebook (even my personal profile) for much other than business. This is the reason my photograph on my personal Facebook page is the round OP Logo.  Kind of defeating, I know, but it is what it is….    So now that I’m starting with Google+, I’m going to see if it is feasible to separate business from pleasure, so to speak — after all, that is one of the “benefits” Google+ claims over Facebook; we’ll see if it’s true.  To that end, I’ve  uploaded my professional head-shot into my personal Google + account.  As you do this, you may or may not have the same considerations.

The next check-box question requests your permission to “personalize” the web for you.  This is Google’s way of asking if they can use your personal information to tailor advertisements to you.  Their description of this functionality is purposefully vague on its real purpose, but that’s no surprise.  Who’s going to answer “Yes” to “Send me lots of ads” but saying “Yes” to “You’ll get to see everything your friends recommend that you might also enjoy” is a lot easier to swallow.   Here’s the disclaimer language on Google’s help page regarding this check-box:  When you click the +1 button, you’re explicitly signaling interest in displaying, sharing, or recommending specific online content, including ads.

Of course, one might argue that disabling that check-box removes half the point of social networking, and that’s true, so what you do with this check box is up to you.

Then you click join… and come back tomorrow for what happens next…