#IPRMustKnows: Facebook and Google Make Some Moves

Each week on the Inside PR podcast, Martin Waxman, Gini Dietrich and I’m thornley on Twitter talk about three #IPRMustKnows, three things that we think that communicators and marketers should know about because they are likely to affect the way that we use digital media and social networks to connect withe people.

This week’s #IPRMustKnows are:

Facebook has made its platform even more attractive as a place to publish videos by providing new tools to give publishers greater control over how they post their videos and target their reach. Facebook has joined YouTube as a must-publish place for video. If you aren’t already publishing your videos to both places, it’s time to test a dual publishing approach. Test it for several videos. Watch your stats closely. Then draw your own conclusion about how these two platforms work together to enable you to reach the people who are interested in your content.

Google isn’t giving up on video. It keeps innovating with YouTube. It is updating the YouTube mobile app, to make it easier for you to upload, find and view videos.

And going the other way – reducing a service’s scope and reach, Google announced that it is decoupling Google+ profiles from the login for other services, starting with YouTube. What does this mean for Google+. Trying to strike a positive note, Bradley Horowitz, Google’s product manager for Google+, said in a post on his Google+ page that,

“Google+ can now focus on doing what it’s already doing quite well: helping millions of users around the world connect around the interest they love. Aspects of the product that don’t serve this agenda have been, or will be, retired. But you’ll also see a slew of improvements that make this use case shine (like the recent launch of Collections – https://plus.google.com/collections/featured).”

So, there is a lot happening with both Facebook and Google+. Things you should know about.

If you find these #IPRMustKnows to be useful to you, click over to the Inside PR podcast blog to subscribe to receive the new episodes as soon as they are published.


A European, not global, right to be forgotten


“If the CNIL’s proposed approach were to be embraced as the standard for Internet regulation, we would find ourselves in a race to the bottom. In the end, the Internet would only be as free as the world’s least free place.

“We believe that no one country should have the authority to control what content someone in a second country can access.”

This week, Google took a stand that we all should support. It stood up against the extraterritorial application of a country’s laws to restrict freedom on the internet. The specific case is the attempt by France’s Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés (C.N.I.L.) to require Google to delist links on all of its sites worldwide in order to comply with a right to be forgotten request it receives. Google  currently honours these requests by delisting the link on European Google sites. That makes sense. A European law is applied in Europe.

What the French court is trying to do is worrisome. Google is right to fight it.

At the same time, there is an irony in this situation. Google is taking a stand against the extraterritorial application of a country’s laws. However, when you consider the terms and services we all agree to in order to use sites like Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and virtually all the most popular social sites, you will probably be agreeing to terms and services established according to U.S. standards and governed by California law. In this way, we all are really agreeing to the extraterritorial application of U.S. laws and values – not just on freedom of speech, but also things like copyright and privacy protections.

I applaud Google for standing up for freedom of expression on the Internet on this case. I just hope that my U.S. friends will also be sensitive to the fact that in some ways we all are asked to “become Americans” when we use the Internet. That’s not bad, as long as it always is balanced with a recognition that those of us who live in other countries may have different values that we hold equally dear – and that these values should be respected.

It’s a balancing act that requires that we look at situations carefully and not descend into thoughtless sloganeering.

In the case of right to be forgotten, I think Google has hit the right balance. Respect Europe’s laws in Europe. Now this issue is going before the courts in France. It won’t be decided quickly. It won’t go away. We should pay thoughtful attention.


If you are interested in this subject, here are some posts that I think provide useful context:

CNIL orders Google to apply delisting on all domain names of the search engine

Google Europe Blog: Implementing a European, not global, right to be forgotten

European Court Lets Users Erase Records on Web

‘Right to be forgotten’: How Canada could adopt similar law for online privacy

Facebook questions use of ‘right to be forgotten’ ruling

Consumer group asks FTC to adopt EU’s right to be forgotten

Google accidentally reveals data on ‘right to be forgotten’ requests

Marketers take note: Make video for mobile users

New research from Google and Ipsos MediaCT provides further evidence that the future belongs to mobile and the future of mobile is video.

According to Google,

  • “people who view videos on their phones are 1.4X as likely to watch ads as those who view videos on desktop computers or televisions.
  • “Smartphone viewers are 1.6X as likely as TV viewers to turn to their peers in person and talk about the video content they’re watching.”
  • “smartphone video viewers were nearly 2X as likely as TV viewers to feel a sense of personal connection to brands that show video content or ads on their devices and 1.3X as likely as desktop viewers.”
  • More than 50% of the smartphone video viewers we surveyed said they used video to help them make product decisions in stores or on company websites…” and
  • one in three shoppers actually prefers to use a smartphone to find additional information rather than ask a store employee for help….”

Video has an impact on our online behaviour and our in-person behaviour. So, if it hasn’t already, it’s time for marketers to adopt a new perspective on video.

Are you thinking about your mobile audience when you produce video? Are you producing video that works best on the smaller screen? Or are you still producing video with the desktop in mind?

The world is going mobile. Are you?


Google+ and the lesson of Owned vs Rented Spaces

Screenshot 2014-07-28 10.42.54

The pending breakup of Google+ holds a lesson that we should keep in mind: Social networks serve the business interests of their owners first. It’s as simple as owned vs rented spaces.

The terms, conditions and even basic operations of social networks can and do change at the whim of the owners if they see business advantage in this. If you don’t own it, if you’re just a renter, don’t be surprised if you wake up one morning to find the place has been sold out from under you.

Google gave us a stunning illustration of this on Sunday night when, with a Google+ post, Bradley Horowitz signalled the demise of Google+ as we know it.

The changes at Google+ underline something that savvy social media users should remember: Use your owned spaces to post your valuable content and then use social networks to promote it. Your owned spaces are as permanent as you want them to be. Social networks are as ephemeral as the owners want them to be.

Google+ ends name restrictions. Why? Why now?

I’m as mystified as I was the day of the announcement. Google is removing restrictions on Google+ user names. They announced it with, what else, a Google+ post.Screenshot 2014-07-28 10.42.54

“When we launched Google+ over three years ago, we had a lot of restrictions on what name you could use on your profile. This helped create a community made up of real people, but it also excluded a number of people who wanted to be part of it without using their real names. 

“Over the years, as Google+ grew and its community became established, we steadily opened up this policy, from allowing +Page owners to use any name of their choosing to letting YouTube users bring their usernames into Google+. Today, we are taking the last step: there are no more restrictions on what name you can use.”

When I first saw it, this move left me asking, “Why? And why now?.”

I think that those potential users who objected to having to use real names on Google+ long ago stopped caring about Google+. And the folks who are using it now are probably quite happy with the rules as they are. And they use it and like it.

I worry that the most immediate impact of lifting restrictions on names will be to welcome the trolls onto Google+. In fact, Gini Dietrich tells Martin Waxman and me that shortly after the announcement, she received a marriage proposal from one of the newly-minted anonymous users. A fun move? Or just plain creepy? Whichever, hopefully this is not a sign of things to come.

If Google+ is hoping to attract hordes of new users to mainstream itself as one of the larger social networking platforms,  they’d better have some new magic up their sleeves. There is no reason for people who’ve decided that Facebook or Twitter meets their needs to abandon those services for Google+.

FIR Podcast community on Google+In fact, I think that Google+ has built a happy and enthusiastic group of users around features like Hangouts and Google+ Communities. I’m thinking about the FIR Podcast Community that generates a constant flow of conversation. Yes, it’s only 500 people strong. But it is a community that has a specialized interest and actively uses Google+ to converge around that interest.

So, Google+ is a success for those who use it. Why would the people who cared about anonymity in the first place ever come back to Google+?

Why Google? Why now?

Songza login with Google credentials: On the Web, but not iOS

I clicked over to Songza today and saw that I could log into the their Website using my Google account.

Songza Website Login That’s what I would have expected given Google’s acquisition of Songza.

Then I pulled out my iPhone to log into the Songza iOS App to listen to some music while I worked. Whoops. No can do.

iOS Songza App Facebook Login onlyIf you want to sign into Songza using the iPhone app, you don’t have the option to do so using your Google credentials. Only Facebook.

This must bug Google, the new owners of Songza. I wonder how long it will take for them to change this situation and push an update to the iOS app update through the Apple approvals process to enable users to log in with their Google credentials. Hmmm. I guess this also raises the question of whether Apple will expedite approval of the update.

Not a big thing. But interesting to me.

Inside PR Podcast 374: The Right to be Forgotten and Scott Monty does it right

I missed the recording of the Inside PR podcast this week. So Martin Waxman and Gini Dietrich  recorded it as a two-hander.

In this episode, they talk about the implications of the European Court’s right to be forgotten regime and Scott Monty’s classy announcement that he has left his role as social media head for Ford.

In the past two weeks, requests by European citizens have flooded Google with requests to delete information about them from the search engine’s results. Gini points out that the European Court’s decision requiring that Google takedown information upon request does not sit well with Americans, who see this as undermining the right to free expression. Nevertheless, she advises clients with operations in Europe and elsewhere to take note of this move. It points to the need for companies operating globally to be sensitive to different values in different places. Martin is uncomfortable with the potential that this ruling holds to rewrite and obfuscate history. Where do we draw the line between someone wanting to remove a hurtful or hateful opinion and someone who wants to remove or obscure facts? The true impact of this ruling will only be known over time.

And kudos to Scott Monty for the classy way that Scott announced on his blog that he had left his role as social media head at Ford. Scott praised his team, praised the company and praised the work that they did together. Others who are announcing a move would be well recommended to look at Scott’s departure announcement as a template for the right way to handle yourself when announcing a career change. 

Finally, Interesting factoid or fiction? Martin says that Canada is the only country in the world that still celebrates Queen Victoria’s birthday as a national holiday. With fireworks no less. Is that true? Are we truly unique in the world?


This is a slightly modified version of a post that I wrote on the Inside PR podcast blog. I’ve adapted it for ProPR so that it’s in my archive of posts.

Google Helpouts: Bring an expert to your desk, kitchen, couch, wherever

Helpout Real People 131105

Can you remember how you obtained answers to questions in the pre-Internet world? You could travel to the local library to find a reference book. Or more likely, you turned to a person you knew and whom you thought might have the information. You would phone them or visit them or if you were lucky find them sitting in the same room as you. Knowledge was transferred person to person.

The Internet placed trust in search engines over people

Then the Internet age dawned and with it search engines. Search engines gave us the ability to find information, answers to questions and solutions to problems as quickly as we could enter a search term into a browser. And when we did, a set of search results would be delivered to our browser. Choose the result we liked or trusted most, and we had our answer.

Information became instantly accessible. But it also became disconnected from the the human source we trusted. In effect, we transferred our trust to the search engine and its algorithm.

Continue reading…

Canada and Google Products: So Close Yet so Far Away

Canadians have the best of all worlds. We live close enough to the United States to be able to share US media and pop across the border to spend weekends in US cities (Hello New York, Boston, Chicago, Seattle!) But we still get to keep our own spelling of worlds like colour, pronounce the letter Z as “zed” and watch our democracy unfold in the daily ritual of Parliament’s Question Period.

Yet, when it comes to the introduction of new Google products, we often have a much less happy situation. And this is one of those times.

For the past few weeks I’ve been watching reviews of the Chromecast, the new Nexus 7, the HTC One Google Play and Samsung 4 Google Play phones. All look like awesome devices. And all are just out of reach for a Canadian.

This is what I see when I sign onto the Canadian Google Play device store:

Canadian Google Play device store, July 28, 2013

Canadian Google Play device stores, July 28, 2013

The Canadian store offers only last year’s devices – the Nexus 7 2012 version and the Nexus 4. Not one word about the awesome new devices that my American friends sixty miles south of me are ordering and testing.

When it comes to the introduction of new products from Google, Canadians are so close, yet so far away.


July 31, 2013 Still no sign of the new Nexus 7 on the Google Canada Play devices store. BestBuy.ca now shows one model of the new Nexus 7. However, it is not available to buy online nor in a store.

BestBuy 130731



August 13, 2013. Slowly, slowly, the rollout is occurring.The New Nexus 7, well at least the 16GB version made its appearance on the Canadian Google Play store this morning.

New Nexus 7 16GB in Canada Play Store 130813


Are Google Alerts on the Endangered List?

Google Alerts 130324I use Google Alerts to track references to my company and industry. Over time, I’ve noticed that the results have been sporadic and unreliable. I thought it was a problem with the search terms I’d set up. It turns out the problem wasn’t at my end. It’s at Google’s end. I found a Danny Sullivan post from mid-February noting that “It was awesome; but for several weeks, it’s become nearly useless. Google assured Sullivan that they were fixing the problem with alerts. But they didn’t. I’ve seen no change with Google Alerts. It’s continued to miss finding stuff I know it should be locating, Sullivan posted last week. Shortly after that, Mashable noted the same problem and investigated. Their conclusion: “Something definitely seems to be broken with the current Google Alerts system.”

Oh Oh. Is Google lavishing the same indifference on Google Alerts that presaged the shutdown of Reader?