The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Business

June 5, 2014

Ask the Mompreneur: What business owners can learn from challenges of Google Plus

In April, the head of Google Plus, Vic Gundotra, announced his departure from Google. While not the official end of the social network product, Gundotra’s resignation seems to signal the end of an era.

TechCrunch reported: “What we’re hearing from multiple sources is that Google Plus will no longer be considered a product, but a platform - essentially ending its competition with other social networks like Facebook and Twitter."

For many outside the tech industry, this was a less-than-newsworthy event, given the paucity of active Google Plus users. But for business owners, the fall of Google Plus is a cautionary tale replete with lessons for entrepreneurs.

LESSON 1: You can’t make customers do what you want them to do.

The flagship feature of Google Plus is their concept of circles, where you organize your contacts into different groups, such as “Co-workers," “College buddies," or “Selwyn Elementary PTA." While this sounds good in theory, in practice it’s about as much fun as making seating charts for your wedding.

Entrepreneurs should take note: You can’t force your customers or website visitors to jump through hoops, no matter how logical your reasons or rational the benefits. The only safe bet in our overloaded world is that customers will default to the action that requires the least mental or physical effort, which often means taking no action at all.

LESSON 2: Incentives only get you so far.

Which brings me to the issue of incentives. Google Plus offers a reward to business owners in terms of SEO, or search engine optimization. The unintended consequence of this reward is that it cements this idea in the user’s mind: I only use Google Plus because it helps my SEO.

By the same token, business owners should be cautious in offering rewards to customers. You want your clients to think, “I refer people to Jane Lee because she’s an amazing real estate agent," not “I refer people to Jane Lee because she pays me $50 for every lead."

LESSON 3: Money can’t buy everything.

And perhaps the biggest lesson of all is that consumer awareness cannot simply be bought.

Wiser minds may someday solve the puzzle of why Google failed to win the hearts and minds of social users. But one thing is for sure - it wasn’t for lack of money, engineers or desire. They wanted a piece of the social pie, and they wanted it bad ... to the tune of more than 1,000 full-time employees. And yet they could not unseat the competitors that had social at their core.

So if you’re the little guy, remember that other big, bad incumbent that started with a “G." As an entrepreneur, you may face your own Goliath, but even Goliaths can fall.

Jennie Wong is an executive coach, author of the e-book “Ask the Mompreneur“ and the creator of the product quiz website www.ABorC.com. Email her at TheJennieWong(at)gmail.com.

 

1
Text Only
Business
  • How to become a leader

    QUESTION: I’ve just been promoted into a leadership role. I’m excited, but also kind of overwhelmed. What do I need to do to be good at my new job?

    July 24, 2014

  • Balancing Act: How much is your time worth? Consider outsourcing some tasks

    Todd Paton has a booming business getting customers noticed on the Web. One tool he uses is generating online press releases to build brand awareness and create links that will send traffic to a customer’s website. But Paton, owner of Paton Internet Marketing, acknowledges that writing the releases is not his strong suit. Rather than spend his time doing it, he hires out the task.

    July 23, 2014

  • The Color of Money: No easy way to get out of debt

    Many people who are deeply in debt are desperate for a quick fix. They ask the question: What can I do to get out of debt?

    July 21, 2014

  • Watercooler: When to speak up if you see problems down the line

    Q: Our organization has hired a new director. I am one of a number of division heads; above us, there's the associate director, and above him is the director. The associate director is feared and disliked for his duplicity and dictatorial nature, though few have come forward because of his vindictiveness.

    July 18, 2014

  • Career Coach: Bringing a purpose-driven spirit to work

    Increasingly, religious beliefs and practices of employees are becoming more evident in the workplace. Religious diversity and concepts of spirituality are more prevalent in organizational settings.

    July 18, 2014

  • Ask the Mompreneur: It’s best to farm out your payroll

    When my husband and I hired our first employee at our Web development company, we had it easy when it came to doing payroll.

    July 17, 2014

  • Protecting against unnecessary losses

    QUESTION: I run a small bar and grill which is open 7 days a week and have to rely on others for some of the shifts. How can I ensure employees have not become my partners?

    July 17, 2014

  • A checklist for keeping you focused at work

    A quick check of Facebook and next thing you know, a half-hour’s passed. Start chatting with a co-worker and suddenly 20 minutes is gone and the report you were supposed to finish by lunch is late.
    Workplace distractions are everywhere, especially in an age of social media and open-plan offices. In the face of so much temptation, accomplishing what you’re paid to do can be tough.

    July 16, 2014

  • It could be time for a career coach

    Need a little help figuring out your next career move?
    If you’re putting in the hours and still not seeing the rewards, feeling undervalued or simply striving to be more successful, it may be time to hire a career coach.

    July 16, 2014

  • Your Office Coach: Turn to boss for help with disgruntled underling

    QUESTION: When I joined this company a few weeks ago, I discovered that the person who previously held my position is now working for me. “Sarah” obviously resents my presence and frequently says I don’t have the authority to manage her, even though I clearly do. Her negativity has made my job much more difficult.

    July 15, 2014

Business Video
Stocks