Google has just launched Google+ Business Pages which, unlike the ordinary Google+ pages, allow you to have an identity as a business rather than only as an individual.
That distinction on its own is in fact fairly meaningless in my case, since I and the eDisclosure Information Project are the same thing in public-facing terms. The primary reason for starting the business page is that one can have a proper heading and some photographs at the top, and publish a URL, albeit a rather unfriendly one – mine is https://plus.google.com/101758229793623373564
You also stand a reasonable chance of being included in Google search results, although it is too early to say whether that works well.
Having a business identity does not lose the personal one used to sign up for Google+ in the first place, and you can switch between the two identities. That allows me to use them for different purposes.
The Google+ concept is, of course, a “social” one, designed to encourage sharing. Like many others, I have not yet found this terribly useful – I am not going to abandon Twitter and the 1000+ followers I have there, nor am I going to duplicate every tweet in Google+ – they turn up automatically in LinkedIn anyway, and most people in my Google+ circles will already have seen the content before I can paste it into Google+.
Most of my written output, in word-count terms, goes into my blog. That is my primary platform and the home of most of my intellectual capital. In reputation terms, it is what I am known for, and in pure business terms its function is to attract as much traffic as possible for the subject of electronic disclosure / eDiscovery.
I am distinctly precious about both the content and the form of blog posts, and spend hours polishing the sentences, punctuating it all carefully, rolling the paragraphs round in my head until they flow properly and adding hyperlinks. This takes time – I can spend more than a day on a single post if necessary. The difficulty, and it is a difficulty which increases, is that there is far more material flying by, particularly via Twitter, then I can cover without compromising on the quality – “literary quality” sounds much grander than I intend, but whatever the right term, it is incompatible with the instant journalism approach which is the only way to keep up with the flood of interesting stuff which appears daily. Twitter, excellent as it is as a medium for exchanging news and views, is not a great information repository.
I flag some tweets as favourites, put things on my to-do list, capture web pages in iCyte or make notes in Evernote (and am very happy to promote both those products). Much of it, inevitably, gets lost in the succeeding waves of information particularly when, as recently, I am away a lot and out of Internet range.
What I needed was a vehicle which lay somewhere between the instant 140 characters of Twitter and the day’s worth of dictation and editing of a blog post. Google+ business pages may well be the answer. I therefore let my back-log pile up for another day to put together a business page and give it some content. It is, as I say, at https://plus.google.com/101758229793623373564
The main considerations are the following:
- This is a supplement to the blog and Twitter, not a substitute for either of them.
- The aim is speed, and I am not too bothered about grammar and punctuation, nor will I stop to hyperlink to everything as I do with the blog.
- Some of the content will recur, perhaps verbatim, in the blog. For some entries, however, the Google+ entry will be the only occurrence, either because nothing more was ever intended or because I do not manage to get back to it.
- Many entries will carry a link back to the blog. The more content there is, the greater the chance of the business page appearing in Google indexes, and the links to the blog should improve the (already very good) SEO (search engine optimisation) of the blog.
- For the moment, this use of social media is not intended to be “social” at all – I am using it as a one-way medium and any dialogue or information exchange will continue to happen on the default Google+ page. I do not therefore have to worry about overloading the timelines of other people – they will only see my entries if they choose to come to the page.
- There may well be room for a more collaborative initiative in due course. That is not the intention of this one.
- The page is public and I (or anyone else) can link to it using the rather clunky URL given above.
- I will put periodic links to the page, from Twitter and elsewhere.
- I do not promise to keep it up – previous attempts to do something similar have foundered because the ratio of effort to reward was not good enough.
- Google has not released any analytic tools for measuring visits. I am not too bothered about this for my own sake, since I am confident of attracting anyone who is genuinely interested in the subject, and correspondingly indifferent to tyre-kickers and to all those pointless measures of alleged social media “influence”. I am occasionally asked for the blog stats, however, and will add Google+ analytics as they become available.
Overall, the aim is to capture and share more, to add my own brief commentary if appropriate and to build up a supplementary body of information , some of which will go through into the blog in due course, all without cutting too much into proper writing time.