jh5rw5urjf7rxrwdlmujGizmodo reported this week that it looks like Google+ is going to be split into two services, called Photos and Streams.

So does that mean G+ is dead? Maybe not yet, the Gizmodo piece said, but “it does suggest that Google is moving away from the pure Plus branding, which suggests an overhaul may be not too far off.”

Here’s the problem with G+: It doesn’t lack innovation; Hangouts proved that. No, it lacks expectation, one of the cornerstones of a strong brand, including (and especially) B2B.

I go to Facebook, and I expect – and receive, I might add – a good user experience, not only from the interface itself, but from my personal community.

I go to LinkedIn and I expect that it will position me positively among my professional connections, not only through the content I post but the interface; again, I am satisfied.

Twitter is a hybrid for me – I have a business/professional feed and a sports/personal feed and I expect that I will always find content that will help me build my knowledge. No issues there; Twitter is my favorite social media platform.

But I never felt any strong expectation with G+. Indeed, after awhile it was just another platform to manage that was too much like Facebook. It never fit a niche for me, and eventually permanently fell to the wayside.

Chris Brogan and I exchanged tweets this week about the Gizmodo article and G+, and he shared his own blog post. He’s of the belief that G+ isn’t a social network as much as it is a hub (or a backplane, as he calls it) for all Google has to offer.

Maybe. But for me, and I’ll wager most people, Google+ is ghost town and will eventually fade away. The question is whether anyone will even notice.

The moral for B2B brands, both online and offline, is to create great expectations so people will want to come back.


9780470260364_p0_v1_s260x420It’s rare these days that a book will stop me cold and challenge me to critically assess what I do every day. But that’s exactly what happened when I read Tuned In by Craig Stull, Phil Myers and David Meerman Scott.

Tuned In’s premise is simple: It’s the buyer‘s problem that matters. Are you and your organization considering first and foremost what the buyer needs and wants? Or is your product development process and resultant marketing, PR and social media efforts egocentric, focusing on features and benefits and not much else?

That caught my attention. I’m hoping it catches yours. It reminded me a little of Marty Neumeier‘s missive that became the basis for this blog almost five years ago: It’s not what you say a brand is – it’s what they say it is.

In this case, “they” are the buyer. And it’s the buyer that matters, according to Messrs. Stull, Myers and Scott.

To that end, Tuned In provides a six-step process to get an individual and his/her organization to focus on the buyer’s problem:

Step 1: Find unresolved problems.
Step 2: Understand buyer personas.
Step 3: Quantify the impact.
Step 4: Create breakthrough experiences.
Step 5: Articulate powerful ideas.
Step 6: Establish authentic connections.

The authors hammer home the point that it’s crucial to develop and market a product that resonates with buyers. They call it a Resonator, and they define it as a breakthrough product or service that buyers immediately understand has value to them, even if they have never heard of your company or its products before. Think about the Apple iPod (which they use as one of dozens of examples of a Resonator). Think of what it does, how easy it is to use, how it looks (even down to the white headphones), and how it’s marketed.

But how do you get there? How do you get to the point where you’ve sold 350 million units globally, like the iPod?

“Understanding your market and your buyers through in-depth interviewing is by far the most effective way to discover unresolved market problems that people will pay money to solve,” the authors say.

Contrast that with what they cite as the typical way products are developed and marketed: Conference rooms packed with both people and opinions about the market and buyers. In fact they have a funny phrase to counter that:

“Your opinion, although interesting, is irrelevant.”

Which is what hit home for me. Am I focused on my opinions and pre-conceived notions about a buyer or an entire market in my counsel to clients? I like to think not, but I would also say that I don’t think I am where I need to be. That’s why this book was so powerful – it is literally the catalyst to fine-tune my approach to everything I do professionally.

As usual with business books, I’ve marked this one up and am going to keep it nearby going forward because it’s simply rich with practical ideas. I’d recommend you do the same.

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