Ms. Aggarwal

Social Media & Relationship Marketing

+1 Button, Google+ and Hotels

By Benu Aggarwal, Founder & President, Milestone Internet Marketing

alt textIn the recent months Google has been trying out new projects and applications at an almost feverish pace. They seem to have made the transition from using names that made no sense in relation to the project (Google Hot Pot) to taking a page from Prince's playbook and going with a symbol that throws wrenches into grammatical structure and HTML code (Google+).

You may be asking yourself these questions: what is Google+, what relationship does it have with the Google +1 Button, what are Circles, what is a Hangout, and most importantly, how do I get involved in this?

What is Google +1?

The Google +1 Button is Google's latest foray into making search more social. As the web continues to follow the trend of how people interact in real life, Google is putting more emphasis on the ability to tailor search results to the interests of an individual user based on what she and her friends find to be important.

When signed into your Google account, the +1 button shows up next to all of the entries in the search results pages. By clicking this button, you are publicly stating that you approve of the content. Google's intent is to use this information to "help friends, contacts, and others on the web find the best stuff when they search."

alt text

The button is not only limited to the search results pages. Much like the Facebook Like button, the +1 button can be added to your website. This way your users can +1 your content directly from their site, giving it their public stamp of approval.

What is Google+?

In the most basic of terms, Google+ (pronounced "Google Plus") is the latest social network to project to hit the internet. Google+ allows you to connect to different groups of people in ways that more accurately reflect your real life groups, share thoughts, photos and videos, search for news items of interest, have group chats and even have live group video chat. While it does seem quite similar to Facebook in many respects, it does have some unique features: the two biggest standouts being Circles and Hangouts.

Circles is a tool for managing your varied real-life connections and ensuring you are sharing information only with the people you want to. According to Paul Adams of the Google User Experience team, the concept for Circles came from the idea of how we interact with people in the real world.1 Rather than grouping all acquaintances as "friends," Circles allow us to group the people we know into categories that reflect our lives. We communicate with people from different areas of our lives, and those areas don't always mesh. Circles helps us be able to interact with specific groups of people, and keep those interactions separate when needed.

Adding your online contacts to relevant Circles (that you create and name) allows you to stay informed and share information based on your interests. The quality of the messages on Google+ is arguably better than Twitter because it does not have the same character limitation, and allows for inclusion of full-sized images. Facebook and Google founders Mark Zuckerberg and Larry Page are already among the most followed users in Google+.

One of the most buzzed about topics on Google+ is Hangouts, the new group video chat feature. Hangouts allow groups of up to 10 people to video chat simultaneously - for free. The goal of Hangouts is to make the concept of video chatting a simple extension of your online life. Bumping into friends online should be like in life - starting an unplanned group conversation should be quick, easy and fun.

How are Google +1 and Google+ Useful to Hoteliers?

At this time the Google +1 button and Google+ are not connected. When you click the +1 button, this does not show up on your Google+ account.

Adding the +1 button to your website is a good way to help your SEO efforts. When a user clicks the +1 button on your site, that action will show up in the search results when the user's friends or contacts search Google for related items. Having many people click the +1 button can also help the ranking of your website in search results: "+1's from friends and contacts can be a useful signal to Google when determining the relevance of your page to a user's query. This is just one of many signals Google may use to determine a page's relevance and ranking."

alt text/

Google+ is currently set up for people and not for businesses, and right now Google is asking businesses to NOT create Google+ accounts. According to Christian Oestlien, the Ads Leads for Google+, Google is working hard on building a Google+ business experience that will be very unique from the personal profiles and have features for business that the current profiles do not have. In addition to asking brands to be patient, the Google "policy team will actively work with profile owners to shut down non-user profiles." So the overarching message Google wants to push here is: Google+ is currently for people only. Brands stay tuned.

How can you get it?

The +1 Button can be added to your website fairly quickly with a small piece of code provided by Google. There are some options to customize the button as well to ensure it fits in with your site design - or stands out so people see it and click. Click here to get the Google +1 Button code. (Note: Milestone is currently testing +1 button implementation and will soon be offering it to all our clients based on site requirements.)

To get involved in Google+ you need to have a Google profile. If you use Gmail, then you already have one. However, Google+ is still in a testing phase, and they are requiring that you have an invite from an existing Google+ user to join. At the time of writing this article, Google has stated that there are already over 10 million users on Google+, so finding a friend with access shouldn't prove to be too difficult. Just put the word out on your existing social networks and see who can help. If that doesn't work, you can also try to get invited directly by Google by filling out the form here. Or, leave us a comment below and we'll send you an invite. (Make sure you leave the comment with your Google Account email address.)

What is Milestone Doing with +1 and Google+?

The newest version of Google Analytics contains some useful new tools to measure how socially engaged your website visitors are. This includes measurement of how many people are clicking the +1 button on your various pages, as well as other social buttons (Facebook Like and Twitter Tweet buttons). We are working with our clients to add the +1 button to relevant pages - home pages, package pages, blog posts - that contain information people are likely to find engaging and want to recommend to their friends. On the back-end, Milestone is also configuring the new analytics code appropriately so we can effectively measure the social traffic on our clients' pages.

alt text

While we do recommend the addition of the +1 button for our clients, it is important to note that this button (like any additional feature) can impact the time it takes for your page to load. Loading speed is one of the factors search engines use to rank pages, so keep that in mind when implementing this new button. Happy +1'ing!

Sources:

http://www.slideshare.net/padday/the-real-life-social-network-v2
http://www.google.com/intl/en/webmasters/+1/button/index.html
http://searchengineland.com/google-hold-off-on-creating-business-profiles-on-google-non-user-profiles-will-be-shut-down-84607

Benu Aggarwal, Founder and President of Milestone Internet Marketing, is an expert in internet marketing strategies for the travel industry. An award-winning internet marketing firm, Milestone is a cutting-edge, interactive agency providing complete internet solutions, from web 2.0 to search engine promotion strategies. Milestone is making a difference on how the travel industry maximizes marketing on the Web, representing over 700 clients worldwide, including major hotel brands and premier resorts. Ms. Aggarwal can be contacted at 408-492-9055 x 2215 or benu@milestoneinternet.com Extended Bio...

HotelExecutive.com retains the copyright to the articles published in the Hotel Business Review. Articles cannot be republished without prior written consent by HotelExecutive.com.

Receive our daily newsletter with the latest breaking news and hotel management best practices.
Hotel Business Review on Facebook
RESOURCE CENTER - SEARCH ARCHIVES
General Search:

MAY: Eco-Friendly Practices: Doing Well by Doing Good

Jennifer Moon

While there are still US Senators who insist climate change is a hoax , the planet is less patient when it comes to winning or losing that argument. The effects on the ecosystem of human-driven activity to date are being felt now and will only intensify in the coming years. There’s an increasing amount of media coverage around climate change topics that all emphasize a sense of urgency and near doomsday-like outlooks for many industries and destinations: warmest winters ever experienced, faster rising sea levels, and global food insecurity. In the private sector, we find the rhetoric is shifting towards strategically addressing climate change issues. READ MORE

Patricia  Griffin

I attended the “Re-Think Waste” Massachusetts recycling meeting, and was absolutely blown away by a session on textile recycling. I’m sharing with you what I learned, and hope you too will consider making textile recycling as important as we all make paper, aluminum, plastic and glass recycling. Fleece, flannel, corduroy, cotton, nylon, denim, wool and linen. What can you do with these fibers when you’re finished wearing them, sleeping on them or draping them over your windows? One way to benefit both your community and the environment is to donate used textiles to charitable organizations. Most recovered household textiles end up at these organizations. READ MORE

Andrea Pinabell

Every day, each of us make what seem like routine decisions that actually have a profound impact on our planet. Among these decisions are our choices in food and beverages – specifically seafood – which have much farther reaching implications than one might imagine. The kinds of seafood we select affect the health and diversification of rivers and oceans as well as the economic well-being of fishermen and their families, especially in remote resort areas, creating a ripple effect on our human health, river, reef and ocean ecosystems, our communities, our local economies and our business. READ MORE

Gaynor Reid

Do you change your bath towels and bed linen every day at home? Most people don’t. Today, it has also become normal for guests to reuse them for two to three days when staying at a hotel. More than half of guests are in favour of reusing their towels, especially if some of the money saved in doing so is reinvested in planting trees for the benefit of the local community. This is according to a survey carried out by AccorHotels aimed at measuring changes in guest habits, current awareness of sustainability issues and their expectations of hotels in terms of sustainable development. READ MORE

Coming Up In The June Online Hotel Business Review


{300x250.media}
Feature Focus
Sales & Marketing: The Rise of the Millennials
Hotel Sales & Marketing departments have endured massive change in the past few years in terms of how they conduct their business, and there is little evidence to suggest that things will be slowing down anytime soon. Technological advances continue to determine how they research, analyze, plan, engage and ultimately sell to their customers. Though "traditional" marketing is still in the mix, there has been a major shift in focus toward online marketing. First and foremost is an understanding of who their primary audience is and how to market to them. Millennials (those born between 1981-1997) are the fastest growing customer segment in the hospitality industry, and they are expected to represent 50% of all travelers by 2025. With the rise of millennial consumers, sales and marketing efforts will need to be more transparent and tech savvy, with a strong emphasis on empathy and personal customer connection. Social media is essential for this demographic and they expect hotels to engage them accordingly. Other targeted groups include cultural buffs, foodies, LGBT, and multi-generational travelers - all of whom are seeking novel experiences tailored specifically to their interests and needs. Finally the Baby Boomers are still a force to be reckoned with. They are currently the wealthiest generation and are becoming increasingly tech savvy, with 33% of internet users now falling into this demographic. It is imperative that hotels include this generation when it comes to their 2016 digital marketing strategies. The June Hotel Business Review will examine some of these markets and report on what some sales and marketing professionals are doing to address them.