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With Google+ celebrating its third anniversary in June this year, I have noticed a surge in brands getting busy and shifting their marketing attention toward this network.
1.15bn users are only the beginning of many possibilities that Google+ has to offer, especially if Google is planning something big this year.
But have they tapped all the potential in waking up its sleeping community?
Google+ offers features and experiences that other platforms cannot. From shopping within live videos (using Hangouts) and diverse communities, to instant conversion of still images into GIFs, there’s a good reason to take an interest in the platform.
I have come across some really interesting partnerships happening between Google and brands from various industries, from fashion, football, and even confectionery. Following some really innovative competitions and campaigns designed ultimately for Google+, I’m starting to think that we might be about to witness a Google+ revolution.
Have a look at how Google is working on a re-birth of its so called forgotten network and grabbing the attention of brands.
A motion photography contest
Google and The Saatchi Gallery recently partnered to launch a photographic contest, which aims to encourage experimentation with photography as a form of art.
The process of uploading photos is straightforward as users can upload a series, from five and up to 50, photos in succession to their profile. Google+ is then used to stabilise and stitch them together into a short animation, which should be submitted to one of six category events.
The Motion Photography Prize entries will be judged by director Baz Luhrmann, Tracey Emin, Shezad Dawood and Cindy Sherman, who will be looking at users’ GIF making skills.
It is expected that the competition will attract attention from all quarters: from GIF enthusiasts to professional photographers. Anyone might be tempted with a chance to win the one-of-a-kind prize, to have their work showcased in the Saatchi Gallery at a special exhibition held on 16 April 2014.
The winner has a chance to win a trip with a photographer or filmmaker of their choice. CEO of the Saatchi Gallery Nigel Hurst said:
We are thrilled to be collaborating with Google+ on an initiative that will provide a global platform for exciting new motion photography, and highlight the potential of the very latest technology to encourage creativity.
It will be interesting to follow up the story and see the exhibition featured online at Saatchi Art, to find out how the hunt for emerging talent worked through Google+.
The ever shoppable experience on Hangouts
How better to kick off the new season than with a new invention - the first shoppable Google+ hangout: #ShopTheHangout.
The fashion designer, Diane von Furstenberg, who already made a stamp in 2012 by recording New York Fashion Week with Google Glass, brought something new to the meaning of the virtual event.
On the 3rd October 2013 viewers were able to ‘virtually meet’ this fashion icon by joining the Hangout online, with photos of the DVF fall collection on the right of the Hangout video.
Participants of this livechat were able to multitask by listening and browsing the shoppable range and in just a matter of few clicks purchase any of the presented items.
This partnership not only allowed DVF to present her latest outfits with a dose of handy styling tips, it also gave her the chance to answer questions about career and style from 5 women (whose physical locations ranged from Netherlands to Hong Kong).
These individuals were selected from the entrants who submitted their questions in advance.
There are no stats to reflect on how successful the performance was, but the YouTube video promoting the campaign speaks for itself, with a staggering 2.3 million views while the broadcast live received at least 740 views.
This shoppable hangout is not the first of its kind and since it other fashion brands have started tapping in, including the likes of Rebecca Minkoff, Rachel Zoe, Hrithik Roshan.
More shoppable hangouts are being planned in partnerships with other CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) designers but in the meantime the questions remains, if you would you join the #ShopTheHangout to buy your favourite designer’s frock?
Giving a helping hand with live chats
How better to capture consumers’ attention than with a live video? Especially if this service could become a new way for brands to educate their customers, whilst gaining additional knowledge about them and showing off their expertise.
While Sephora is using Google+ Helpouts for make-up tutorials to connect with beauty enthusiasts and fashion bloggers, Clinique UK is turning knowledge learned from live interactions and comments to educational content, which then is used in paid media and on YouTube.
According to the Google case study, the brand noticed that "the in-stream ad featuring the hangout footage had a VTR that was 16 times higher than the product ad, and a CTR that was 10 times higher". 14% uplift in conversion rate speaks for itself.
You can find all types of businesses using this video service to connect with customers and convey expertise through the one-to-one service.
Rosetta Stone offers 30 minute sessions for a price of $30, which can be used to review documents, correspondence or presentation in English and Spanish or help build confidence for a specific situation or an exam.
If you have a question about meal planning or cooking with seasonal ingredients a $9.06 Helpout from Rouxbe Online Cooking School maybe your answer.
But that is not all. Professionals in many industries from landscape coaches to interior designers, handymen, consultants and nutritionists are using Google+ Helpouts as a new way of meeting an international customers and making money.
Even giants like Tesco can’t resist staying away from Google+, as it recently launched a nationwide food education scheme, the Eat Happy project.
It aims to use Google+ hangouts and live chats to encourage children to visit farms, learn more about suppliers and learn how to make food with live cooking lessons.
Hangouts work. The best proof of this is current success from Cadbury UK who by Hanging Out with the baking community and experimenting with recipes through #CremeEggBake recently managed to reach more than 3m users!
As Shafqat Islam mentioned in his previous post, Cadbury basically took Google+ by storm.
Using technology and competitions to bring fans together
Real Madrid and Manchester United show how to score on Google+.
Madrid is just about to prove that sport and Google+ mix very well together. Real Madrid and Emirates introduced an interactive competition ‘Fans for Real’ on the 14th of January this year.
Fans from all over the world were encouraged to share great memories and engaging content by using hashtags #FansForReal and #FlyToMadrid through their Google+ profiles and pages. This fun-sounding tournament finished on the 7th of March, leaving anticipation about who is going to win an opportunity of a lifetime.
The most devoted fans win a flight with Emirates to Madrid, and a chance to meet and watch their favourite players at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.
The campaign was boosted with a video specifically designed to encourage fans to join Google+, but what really made the process of engaging easier was Google+’s native language translator, which allowed the brand and the fans communicate together without a language barrier.
Another football team, Manchester United, likes to literally ‘hang out’ with its fans on Google+.
In this case Google+ Hangouts are being used to allow fans to interact with their favourite team stars by putting questions to players like Danny Welbeck, Jonny Evans, and Tom Cleverley.
This year the team decided to bring the experience to a new level by teaming up with Google+ to launch a unique campaign called ‘Front Row’.
A selected group of fans is up for a chance to ‘be there’ at Old Trafford on March 16th and witness match between United and Liverpool via a live Google+ Hangout. To win, fans are encouraged to share a picture showing their support for Manchester United with a hashtag #MUFrontRow.
This pretty unique experiment allows showing off the possibilities of Google+ by blending it with the real sport combined with a dose of technology.
‘Dragons Den’ style pitch from Virgin money
Virgin Money and Start collaborated with Google to launch a competition for “the best, brightest and boldest sustainable start-up and new product ideas.” The #BeTheStart campaign aimed to encourage entrepreneurs to have the guts to reveal ideas that could become solutions and push sustainability challenges.
To make the challenge more exciting, five budding entrepreneurs were selected to pitch their business ideas live via Google+ Hangout for a chance to win £10,000. From 80 sustainable businesses who submitted their ideas Misfits, DoNation, Edible Bus Stop, GiveMe Tap and Project Bees Wax were selected.
The social media audience was able to watch these five finalists pitching their sustainable business idea or product to a panel of industry leaders from Virgin Money Giving, Marks and Spencer, BITC, B7Q and IBM.
You can meet the winner of the competition by watching a Google+ live announcement, but to me all of them won a valuable experience by getting involved in this project and testing their strength of pitching potentially in front of a worldwide audience.
Toyota Collaborator powered by Google+ Hangouts
Toyota and Google+ were working together on making the buying process of a car more exciting and useful for families and their friends. Powered by Google+ and based on Hangouts, a new app was launched called Toyota Collaborator to help customise the dream family car.
This ‘social car configurator’ allow shoppers to invite other people to become part of the construction process. From ‘inside’, Google+ users can customise colours, look around the exterior and interior or even take the car for a virtual drive.
In the matter of few clicks they can save their favourite designs and invite a Toyota dealer into the hangout to answer product questions or arrange time to visit a dealership.
Undoubtedly, Google+ has had a few problems establishing its presence. But could these experiments from brands become the best ingredient in attracting loyalty and engagement?
Let me know what you think of the above examples. Would you use any of the Hangout services for your personal purchases? Do you think brands are able to repeat Cadbury’s success and turn Google+ into a must-go destination?