Category Archives: Google +

Google + may charge you for your custom URL

Google has started rolling out custom URL’s for its Google plus profiles and pages. Now you can own URL’s  that look intuitive and are easy to remember such as: instead of the hard to remember profile URL:


Some people have received emails about this feature, others night have noticed a black bar at the top of their Google + page inviting them to confirm their custom URL. le

You need to be eligible to get a custom URL.  For personal Google+ accounts you need to have:

  • 10 or more followers
  • Your account is 30 days old or more
  • A profile photo

If you would like to claim your own Google+ URL, here’s how to find it.

  1. Go to "About" tab on your Profile
  2. Click on the "Claim" link located under your Google+ URL.
  3. You’ll see the URL for which you’re approved. You may see more than one option. In this case, select the one that you like best.
  4. Tick the box to agree to the Terms of Service.
  5. Click on Change URL.
  6. You may be asked to verify your account by mobile phone number. A box will pop up asking you to do so.
  7. Check your phone for the code that was sent to you, Enter the code in the box. Click on Verify.
  8. Once approved, this URL will be linked to your Google+ page or Profile, so make sure that everything is exactly the way you want it.
  9. Once your URL has been approved, you cannot request to change it. When you’re sure, click on Confirm.

Google says that its custom URL’s are “free for now”, but it states that it “may start charging a fee for them”. Google will let you know before it starts charging for its custom URL’s to give you the choice to stop participating and go back to your old URL.

If you want a customised URL and do not want Google to be in control of your chosen name try  This service acts as a redirection service for Google so that takes me straight to my Google + profile

Google has also stated that it “reserve(s) the right to reclaim custom URLs or remove them for any reason, and without notice”. Your amazing customised URL might be yours for less time than you think…

Eileen Brown is a social media strategist and consultant at Amastra, a columnist at ZDNet and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Connect with Eileen on Twitter and or contact her to find out how she can elevate your brand and help your business become more social.


Automatic hashtags in Google+ Good or bad?

Google+ has long recognised the value of hashtags – as had Facebook.  Both platforms have followed Twitter’s lead and are including hahstags in posts. Now Google+ has gone one step further and is now including automatically generated suggested hashtags in its posts. Google suggest appropriate hashtags and displays them on each of your posts


Multiple hashtags appear as a list as in this post from NASA


Clicking on the hashtags brings up a list of related posts and other hashtags


Automatic hashtags will help you find better, more relevant content according to Google. But hashtags can be hijacked.

When a hashtag starts to trend on Twitter spammers take over the hashtag to promote unrelated links,malware and other hashtags. Hashtags are also used for marketers to display promoted stories in your feed.

Using the hashtag terms that you are interested in, and read regularly makes you more amenable to read the advertisers promoted post and information.

if you hate the inclusion of automatic hashtags  then you can turn them off in Settings if you prefer.

But if you really want to get discovered, then use popular hashtags in your Public facing posts. Hashtags that can be easily categorised by Google+  will ensure that you will be much more likely to appear in other’s timelines – and spread the message about your brand…

Eileen is a social media strategist and consultant at Amastra, a columnist at ZDNet and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact Eileen to find out how she can elevate your brand and help your business become more social.

How to get the best out of Google+

Eileen Brown ZDNet Magic wandI read an article the other day about the Financial Times which has over 1 million followers in its circle on Google+ 

Brand pages were introduced in November 2011, so to get to 1 million followers in this time is a really good achievement.

How did the FT manage to gather so many followers? Here are some tips gleaned from both the FT and Time magazine which has 1.2 million followers on Google+


  • Segment  your circles and post relevant content to each topic area so that users can get highly personalised content and not just information from the main feed
  • Search features enables content to be discovered more readily compared with Facebook. Make sure your post titles contain information that makes your post discoverable
  • Hangouts enable quick webcast type updates.  Connect with your audience with open forums, discussions and information
  • Give your users the ability to be able to read posts when and where they like.  they can do this via social reader apps such as flipboard which gets content to the reader wherever they happen to be, on whatever device they choose
  • Encourage sharing via the +1 button on posts, and embed the Google+ button onto blogs and websites
  • Ask the audience questions for better audience insight

Involving the audience gives much better participation and insight. Posting in depth articles as well as sharing lighter topics will enable you to gauge which resonates best.  Sharing links, images and videos works well in Google+ and brings a good vibrancy to the page.

You might not get to 1million followers, but by following interesting people and sharing stories with your audience – that get re-shared — you are adding to the big conversation and contributing socially.

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

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Are we the same person online and offline?

Heck no.


I craft my online words to create an impression of me that I want you to see.  I want you to believe that I truly am the person in my tweets, my blog posts, my Facebook and LinkedIn profile.  But is is the real me?

I’m sure I’m a much nicer person online than I am offline.  I’m always cheerful online, helpful, friendly and kind.  I try to write warm witty and wise blog posts – with the emphasis on the warm.  I don’t want you to know when I’m having a bad day.

I don’t want you to know when I’m feeling vulnerable, scared, sad, lonely, insecure or down.  I want you to see ability,  stability, confidence, employability, hireability.

But is it healthy?

Forbes splits this ‘split personality’ behaviour straight down the middle.  Some women are truly authentic online,  such as Penelope Trunk who pours out her life on her blog.   Others are less authentic online. I probably fall into this camp.  I try to use Paretos 80:20 rule for my online activities.  I’m 80% authentic – keeping the 20% for face to face conversations with offline friends.

Some keep their professional lives totally separate from their personal musings on Facebook.  One of my good friends uses Facebook entirely for the business connections it brings her.  She knows she needs to have a Facebook profile, but she doesn’t update it at all, and yet she has thousands of Facebook Friends.

Some use Facebook to keep in touch with colleagues, some with close friends and family.  I’m still connected to lots of my ex Microsoft colleagues on Facebook.  some are friends, some mere acquaintances.  I mix my Facebook conversation from professional to personal musings.  My Facebook Page however, gets only the business relatedor book related updates. My Facebook profile gets the more honest updates.

But event these updates aren’t truly ‘authentic’

The updates are a nicer, better version of me  — the me, I’d like you to see.  The me, perhaps I’d truly like to be.

But are we sharing too much?

Perhaps we don’t want to know what our friends are reading using the frictionless sharing feature on Facebook.  Are we oversharing or peeking into private lives?  Some people think that they are chatting to just one friend when they post updates on Facebook and are not careful what they post.

Perhaps I’ll stick to outpourings of angst, anger and ire when I’m offline.  Where no one can hear my miserable ranting, emotional outbursts and weeping.

Would it make me a better person online if I shared more? Or would reading these ramblings only serve to reduce your opinion of me – or anyone else that overshares their life?

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Image credit: misteraitch


25 ways to improve your online SEO

imageI’ve decided to choose different resolutions this year – just to be different. 

This year, I’m focusing on my online activities and trying to improve what I do online.

Hints and tips for online activity are all well and good – but they’ve got to be achievable.  Unrealistic targets just demotivate people and defeats the objective. 

I hope that these changes I’ll make will improve my online SEO. Looking at the statistics from last year, my blog is getting found for different reasons.  This year, I want to target how readers land on my blog pages.  i want them to arrive here because of social media content, not because of hamsters and kittens as my blogging 2011 year in review indicated

So my 2012 resolutions are easy to keep – hopefully:



  • Blog regularly – at least twice per week. 
  • Use lots of white space in blog posts for better SEO
  • Use relevant and useful anchor text links
  • Divide posts up into sub headings for better SEO
  • Use SEO friendly blog titles.  For example the initial title of this post was ‘Improving online SEO’ which I changed as the post evolved


  • Use the 80: 20 rule.  80% relevant, interesting work related tweets, 20% home related or observational personal tweets
  • Use the automatic retweet feature only when the original tweet is too long to use the RT feature, or wouldn’t make sense if shortened
  • Don’t start reply tweets with the @name response.  Adding text in front of the @name brings all of your followers into your conversation
  • Try to tweet daily. Keep things interesting
  • Respond to tweets and direct messages promptly, with humour and kindness

Facebook :

  • Ask more questions on my Facebook pages.  Treat each page as a second account with its own personality
  • Cross link my book Facebook page to my company Facebook page (—done)
  • Update the pages regularly
  • Drive people to each page to encourage interaction and engagement
  • Share  interesting links I find

LinkedIn :

  • Read group digest emails and respond to group discussions
  • Add an auto-signature to each message I post in a group so that I’m contactable
  • Use the remove connections link to prune LinkedIn connections who are using my network as a way to connect with new people
  • Update my LinkedIn status regularly
  • Keep the LinkedIn company page up to date

Google + :

  • Update status with blog posts and updates
  • Share Facebook interesting information with Google + followers
  • Share Google + links with Facebook followers
  • Invest more time in updating the Google + company page
  • Decide whether to prioritise activity on Google + over Facebook, or drop Google + completely

I wonder whether I’ll succeed in my goals for 2012, or whether my final score is only 10/25.

Lets see… Smile


Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Image Credit Search Engine People

Google + opens up Pages for brands

imageGoogle + which now has over 40 million user accounts have finally opened up the ability for brands to create pages.  when Google + was launched  back in June 2011, they had a strict policy on brands and user names.  They hit the headlines a couple of times for deleting accounts with pseudonyms and other reasons for violating their ‘real name policy’.

Brand pages weren’t allowed to create their spaces on Google + either.  Now they can.  It’s been hotly anticipated for a while.  Google have been giving teasers to online sites that Google was going to create pages for businesses and asked brands not to create profiles too early.  Google have obviously learned their lesson from Facebook who had the challenge of migrating more than 400,000 users from Apple’s group to Apples pageGoogle+ for Business is now a big push to get brands engaging socially using Google.

So what are the benefits of having your own Google + Page as a brand?

Fish where the fish are:  Brands want to be g push to get brands involved in the same social space as their customers, so it makes sense for them to gather fans and communicate with their fans on every social platform

Advertising:  Having a page on Google + means that you’ll easily be able to connect to services such as AdWords and DoubleClick from your page.  All of the search results, from your website, ads and searches will get added up and appear as a single total.

Search:  There will be search benefits for advertisers with brand pages.  With Google + entries becoming exposed in search results, brands will get extra exposure in search results for their Pages

Analytics:  You’ll now be able to get detailed data, click through and page views from Google Analytics giving a much more targeted set of results

Google has positioned Google + around sharing so that adding pages to their mix helps you share with businesses and brands more effectively.  Google Direct connect will allow you to connect with Google pages right from the search results page and add them to circles.  Bing have had social search additions allowing you to ‘like’ a  Facebook page for some time now.  There’s more info about the things you can do with Google+ on the Google blog.

If you’re looking for examples of pages  so that you can get some inspiration for your own page or to add the page to your circles, you could try Pepsi, Thomson Reuters, Amazon or BBC News.  I couldn’t find ANY Microsoft pages on the top one hundred pages at CircleCount  Hopefully they’ll put something online soon..

So will the introduction of Google +  pages be the death of Facebook and Twitter? 

I don’t think so..

Until they gain a heck of a lot more momentum, integrate other, non Google services through something similar to OAuth, and integrate with other applications that Google doesn’t own.

I think we’ll be waiting for quite a while…

Eileen is a social business strategist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Google + for Enterprise collaboration?

The other day Google announced that they’ll now be allowing users with Google apps accounts to use Google+ from within their existing Google Apps account.  Previously users who used Google + from within their Google Apps account meaning that they needed to log out and log back in if they wanted to use Google+

For Enterprises this can add another layer of complexity and concern.  Users using Google apps within an organisation can create a Google + account which is then visible to anyone on the web.  Posts can, of course, be sent to private circles or public circles.  Or both. 


As an organisation, you also need to consider regulations that might apply in your country such as the Children’s internet protection Act or the Childrens Act and look at the other considerations for Google apps administrators.


I’m not sure about maintaining wholly private circles.  I’ve inadvertently posted to my Public circle instead of my friends and acquaintances.  I’ve also forgotten to check the circles I post to on every software update.  But I’m not alone.  It’s easy to do.  Steve Yegge discovered when he complained about how “Google didn’t get platforms” on Google +long memo which was supposed to be internal, was posted onto the wrong circle and reposted. 

How would you feel if your corporate data was reposted by accident?  Enterprise companies need procedures in place to carry out audit trails, secure confidential information and make sure that inappropriate messages aren’t forwarded outside the company.

How secure would you feel about implementing Google + for internal circles and Hangouts?

…and how would the compliance team respond to your plans?

Eileen is a social business strategist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.