Chris Brogan’s Google+ for Business (Book Review)

January 19, 2012

I hate when I lose a good line that I’ve been using. When talking about Google+ I often say, “It’s so early — it’s not like anyone is an expert yet. I mean, no one’s written a book on it.” WAIT. Scratch that. Someone just did. And here’s why you should give it a look …

The Elevator Pitch

Google+ for Business by Human Business Works President Chris Brogan is a brave effort in a good way. I say ‘brave’ because there’s a good chance it could be dated soon. But hey, in tech, anything could be dated soon. As Brogan himself opens the book, he notes that all things fade (AOL, Friendster, MySpace), however, Google+ is a social network built on the solid foundation of the #1 and #2 search engines (Google, YouTube). In contrast, Facebook doesn’t even allow Google to index its content. At just six months out, this new network already boasts 65 million users. With the potential impact this could hold for brands of all shapes and sizes, we need a book now.

The Big Idea+

Chris Brogan

A great way to give an overview of the big ideas in Google+ for Business is to lay out what the book is and what it isn’t. First, it’s not a manual with ton of screenshots (there are a few) that exhaustively dissects every last feature of this new social network (click here, then do this, etc). It doesn’t take apart everything or provide a lot of under-the-hood technical insight. Heck, Google+ Business Pages don’t show up until the last 30 pages. So what is this book all about?

  • A valuable lesson on why your Google+ profile alone is so important. Making sure you have the right amount of information to paint a clear but somewhat curiosity-inviting picture of who you are is key in attracting users to circle you. I promise you after reading this, you’ll realize your profile is lacking in one of the areas Brogan covers.
  • Google+ ‘Serving Suggestions.’ You get sample Google+ schedules and days in the life from Brogan and other power users like Ford’s Scott Monty. You also get some generic occupational profiles on how various professionals (realtors, writers, etc.) can use personal accounts on Google+ to advance their businesses.
  • A whole chapter on circles. As well there should be. As Brogan notes, this feature is a huge deal with enormous potential and yet so many blow right past it. This chapter also formalizes the user constructs of establishing inbound and outbound circles and friend-surfing. Again, you’re bound to pick up something new here. For my part, I learned you could share circles.
  • Content is king on here, too. As Google+ isn’t quite a blog and yet it’s more than Twitter, the content you create and share here matters a great deal. Several middle chapters dive into content creation tools and opportunities. These sections also provide several sample ideas and content strategies for professionals with examples from Michael Dell and more.
  • Google+ fosters ‘warm selling.’ Like many networks, Google+ allows you to get to know your community before they’re in-market so that they are already a warm lead when they are ready. Brogan also reminds us that, with social media, everyone’s in sales and marketing.
  • A primer on the 6 Cs of Building Audience. My personal favorite is how we need to create a ‘Campfire’ or something of interest to gather around as part of our work building online communities. Some brands are better equipped to have broad conversations of interest. This is evident when Brogan compares the social/conversational potential of Sprite vs. Jones Soda.
  • Great business page examples are also showcased such as Intel who asks fans which circles they want to be in, Edelman PR who takes fans inside their firm, and NASA which highlights the education/classroom potential of Hangouts.
  • A shocking revelation about Google+ business pages. Though he offers a broad overview of the current iteration of Google+ brand pages, Brogan also notes that “Business pages are useful, but they are not central to how one conducts business on Google+.” Again, shocking but true. There are more dynamics of this network than just the static act of setting up a virtual storefront on another social channel.
  • An executive summary on Google+’s impact on search. Brogan doesn’t profess to be a search engine specialist so he provides expert testimony from the likes of Danny Sullivan and Rand Fishkin.

So, Should You Read It?

I have a secret about Google+ for Business. You have to promise not to tell anyone but there are great tips and best practices here that could apply to almost every social network of consequence. Are your profiles maximized (and consistent) everywhere? Are you over-sharing about yourself and not talking enough about the great things that others are doing that can add value to your network? Let me be clear, this is not a criticism but rather a gentle reminder Brogan himself implies while noting that Google+ is in many ways the most human and personal of all of our social networks (probably especially appealing to the author given Brogan’s focus on ‘human business’).

For all of the fervor surrounding the launch of actual business pages this book reminds us that brand pages are only a small part of the Google+ experience. That’s why circle management and curation merits more detail than simple instructions on how to stand up a business page. Too many are too quick to slap up a brand page as a token outpost on Google+ with too few photos and incomplete profiles. Brogan likens it to a shopkeeper who opens up a store and then never ventures onto the sidewalk to talk with the people.

Again, while this is advice that could apply to any network, Brogan carefully examines it all through the lens of Google+. In the final chapter, he reminds us that with Google+, as with all social media, those looking for fast, cheap, and easy solutions are going to be disappointed. The only way to get ahead and realize the full impact that Google+ can have on your business is to dig in and there’s no better guide than one of the network’s earliest explorers.

If you’re ready to take your presence on Google+ to the next level, whether you’re a small-business owner or a community manager at a large corporation, you need to read Google+ for Business.

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is a strategist, speaker, educator, and author of Brand Now: How to Stand Out in a Crowded, Distracted World and Get Scrappy: Smarter Digital Marketing for Businesses Big and Small. He is the Chief Brand Strategist at Brand Driven Digital, an educator at the University of Iowa, and host of the On Brand podcast. More about Nick.