By now, you've certainly heard about Google's latest venture into the social sphere, Google+.
While Google's many (failed) ventures into social networks are well-documented, Google appears to already gained some traction. Following the Wave and Gmail script, Google utilized a strict invitation-only process for new users to stymie unchecked growth.
And before the majority of actual humans have had a chance to set-up shop and post (and re-post) their cat photos, a number of companies, entities and brands have already elbowed their way through the door.
Ford, led by head of social media and super gentleman Scott Monty, have been praised over for years on their successful social strategies. And rightfully so. In many ways, they've been pioneers for big brands utilizing social media, like when Alan Mulally, the CEO, was doing Twitter chats while many large organizations still blocked social websites altogether.
But when Ford showed up on Google , it was an obvious odd fit. Not too different from when brands jumped into Facebook with human profile pages, Ford had to choose it's gender and birth date. Awkward.
With the internet equivalent of the Wild West before us, Google VP of Products, Bradley Horowitz, quickly denounced the brand pages very early on in the field trial.
”Let me be clear – and I’m sorry if this wasn’t obvious – we are not currently supporting brands, organizations, and non-human entities in the Google field trial.
Supporting these non-human entities is an obviously great feature – we have no allergy to it at all! It’s just not part of the system we are currently testing.”
Yet Ford's (and others') brand pages remained. Obviously, Ford wants to tout their social media prowess. They also know their audience and they've been very successful integrating social media into marketing for quite some time.
But how social media-friendly can you be when you've been told you don't belong? And is it any different than spamming a LinkedIn group or tweeting about myself all day?
Thankfully, Google is putting an end to the madness. Last night, Christian Oestlien the Ads Leads for Google announced all business profiles are kaput, right on his Google page.
How users communicate with each other is different from how they communicate with brands, and we want to create an optimal experience for both. We have a great team of engineers actively building an amazing Google experience for businesses, and we will have something to show the world later this year.
The business experience we are creating should far exceed the consumer profile in terms of its usefulness to businesses. We just ask for your patience while we build it. In the meantime, we are discouraging businesses from using regular profiles to connect with Google users. Our policy team will actively work with profile owners to shut down non-user profiles.
We're so oblivious to brands infiltrating our lives. And interruptive marketing still rules the day. But as social becomes more sophisticated, my hope is that brand managers will not just replicate their strategy from social site to social site, setting up shop as they go.
In social media, we know it's incredibly important to be where your customers are. But it's just as important, actually more so, to know when and where you don't belong. Ford is going to do the right thing, I just hope other entities follow suit.
Flickr photo courtesy of lukasbenc
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