Google+ vs Pinterest

The two social media new kids on the block of the last few months have undoubtedly been Google’s offering Google+ and the visual network that is Pinterest. Both of these social media channels have their own pros and cons, but in this virtual dog eat dog world which one will prove its worth to businesses and consumers alike?

Having both Google+ and Pinterest accounts I have my own opinion of which I believe is better for personal and business use but before I divulge that information, what exactly are Google+ and Pinterest?

Google+ is the much anticipated social media network from search engine giants Google. Set to be the first real rival to Facebook, there are similarities between the two. The constant stream of your ‘friends’ statuses, the chat facility and the ability set up pages for businesses. The are some more unique features of Google+, the ‘hangout’ allows a Skype type conference call where you can have a multi user conversation using video and audio. Google+ also allows users to create ‘circles’ so that statuses can be targeted to specific groups of people in ‘circles’ that you create. The social network has been adopted by some influential people like Richard Branson and President Obama as well as business. Its slow up take of users haven’t dampened Google’s spirits for the site’s future, but is it a real contender to Facebook especially for business use?

Pinterest is an image base social networking site where users can ‘pin’ images they find on the internet onto ‘boards’ like a digital pin board. A simple toolbar add on is installed so that whenever you are browsing the internet you are able to pin images to your boards. These boards can be themed around anything you like from the latest fashions to your favourite typography. Being a purely visual site lends itself extremely well as a business tool and early adopters of the site for business functions have be online fashion website ASOS and Hugh Hefner’s empire Playboy. Pinterest lends itself to fashion, which is why ASOS has had such success with their Pinterest presence. It is also a great platform for food, crafts, home ware and photography.

Both of these social networks have positives and negatives that affect their useability for organisations, some of which are below:

Having profiles with both Google+ and Pinterest I have formed my own opinion of the social networking sites. Although I joined Google+ first I find that it’s just too similar to Facebook. Why would a business with an established Facebook page attempt to transfer this on to Google+ that has less users? A lot of businesses are setting up Google+ pages because it’s the next social media fad, this is a huge bug bear. DON’T set up a social media presence unless you are going to spend time and effort maintaining it and certainly don’t do it just because it’s what everyone else is doing. Pinterest on the other hand I have to admit is becoming a firm favourite for me. Maybe it’s because I’m a visual person, but I find the uniqueness of the site (even though its not the first of its kind –  Wists) refreshing. For business Pinterest can be hugely beneficial. On one level it can become a virtual store with the ability to create boards based on the latest seasons or stories and on the other hand it is a place where consumers share their favourite things opening up free influential promotion. Of course as any new social media channel does, Pinterest has some issues it needs to iron out, not least its copyright and terms of use. I do however think that Pinterest offers more to organisations and consumers than Google+ does. That’s not to say that Google+ won’t prosper, Facebook is quickly loosing its appeal especially with its constant interface changes and the extremely unpopular Timeline, so there is room for Google+ to poach some of Facebook’s users. However I think Google+ has a good while longer before they reach the sort of numbers that will make it a truly useful tool. Pinterest on the other hand is the social media site of the moment and a tool that I think organisations would do well to adopt.

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Publicity…the be all and end all of Public Relations?

For the general public, publicity is public relations and is epitomised by Mr Max Clifford every celebrity in crisis right hand man!

In many ways publicity is where public relations began it is often considered to have it’s origins in late 1800 America when a certain Phineas Taylor Barnum went into the circus business. He had already carved a successful career for himself but it was his partnership with James Bailey and James Hutchinson, that earned him the  title ‘The Father of Publicity’. Barnum saw people for the first time as customers and knew that he had to intrigue and excite them to keep them coming back to the circus. One of his most memorable ‘stunts’ was when he used Jumbo the elephant to plough his field, the field ran alongside the main train line into New York city so all of the passengers saw Jumbo pulling the plough. Newspapers and reporters were down at the field reporting and marveling at the spectacle and Barnum’s circus got tons of free advertisement or publicity.

Although the world has moved on and evolved since the 1800’s, many of Barnum’s values are still as prevalent now as they were then. Organisations still view the public as customers and a lot of the time rely on stunts and spectacles to entice them to purchase their products and services. It is however the public that have changed the most since Barnum’s times. Today people can recognise a PR stunt a mile off and although it may cause a stir and make some ripples across YouTube there is no doubt in my mind that they aren’t always as effective today as they were in the 1800s.

Publicity today as already mentioned, is usually associated with celebrity crisis management guru Max Clifford. Now I don’t know about you but whenever I see Mr Clifford stood outside his house next to his flash car, commenting on the latest celebrity scandal it sends a shiver down my spine! Publicity has become synonymous with celebrities trying to rejuvenate their failing careers, which is a shame because it can be a very effective tool for companies when they get it right. Richard Branson has become an expert in publicity stunts, one of my favourites is when he sailed down the Thames with the Sex Pistols when they officially/unofficially got to number one With God Save The Queen on the Queen’s Silver Jubilee! Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t say it was the be all and end all of public relations, but it has it’s place. Grunig and Hunt famously developed the 4 models of Public Relations: Press Agentry, Public Information, 2 way asymmetrical and 2 way symmetrical.

I think it’s right for publicity (press agentry) to still be included within these models I do however think it is important not to stray too far away from the standards. Publicity today is still on a base level the same as it was in Barnum’s time, but the ethics behind some publicity today is on or over the line. If Public Relations and especially publicity wants to continue  be effective then it has to be careful how it puts it’s messages out to the public. People have become savvy to a lot of traditional PR practices, so it’s important for the industry to stay on it’s toes and be creative while ensuring it doesn’t step over the ethical line. A balancing act that any clown performing in Barnum’s circus would have surely struggled with!