Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Google+ deserves a big thumbs-up

If you're trying to build a name online, this new social network will do the job for you

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A few years back, when Facebook was on the rise, Google felt it could dominate the social networking space, so it developed Google Buzz.

Google Buzz was an incredible fail for many reasons. The main reason that pops out to me is that it was invite-only. Essentially, Google wanted to develop a sense of secretiveness and fraternity when you received an invite from a friend to Google Buzz.

The tactic could make sense, but Google Buzz sucked, so when you did receive an invite to the network and signed in, you realized nobody used Buzz, which meant most people never logged on again.

After realizing Buzz was a fail, Google decided to shut it down. However, it wanted to start from scratch, and develop another social network. When I first caught wind of this news, I was not looking forward to Google's new network at all, mainly because of the failure with Buzz. As Google was developing this new social network, I was living my Internet life by using my top three social networks: Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Once Google announced its new social network, Google+, was ready, I did not care at all and proceeded with my normal Internet life.

That changed last week. I was focusing on solely posting to Facebook whenever I needed to share something. However, your Facebook status is not always seen by all your friends/fans. This is because Facebook recently rolled out a new algorithm. I am a big fan of following brands on social media because I love to see what they have to say (and because it's my business). Once Facebook tweaked its algorithm, I got quite peeved. SocialBrite.org has a good explanation of what Facebook did: "Facebook has altered the way it displays posts in the news feed to prioritize posts that have the greatest number of interactions -- a cumulative figure determined by the number of clicks, likes, comments and shares a post receives. The new algorithm also factors in negative feedback and penalizes posts that have been actively hidden by viewers or reported as spam."

After thinking about the topic further, I decided to give Google+ a try. I went in and set up my profile and started circling up friends and people I would like to follow. I am not going to lie -- I absolutely love Google+ thus far. The new social network ties into all my email, calendars, docs and drives. Everything works so well together. I also love the way content is displayed -- it simply looks great, and I do not miss a post. I have only been using the network for a few days now, but I see an opportunity. Chris Pirillo, a tech expert, created a blog post awhile back showcasing how he was getting more interactivity on Google+ than he was on Facebook.

Since not everybody and their dog is on Google+ yet, if you start developing your brand and start using the network daily, you could start to build quite a big network. If you are an entrepreneur, business, or anybody who is trying to build a name online, definitely start using Google+ as it increases search-engine optimization. The most important thing you must do, however, is follow me: http://bit.ly/GooglePlusDavidBell

Starbucks lovers

I have to admit it: I am a Starbucks addict. "Grande half-sweet cinnamon dolce latte" is what you can catch me saying most every day. I've probably spent thousands at Starbucks. That's not the sad part, however. The sad part is I have not been collecting points.

That's going to change. Now you can download the Starbucks app for either iPhone or Android, add gift cards and pay with your phone. All you do is open the app, and the barista scans your screen -- how cool, eh? Not only do you just feel cool by getting to screen-scan, you redeem points every time. After accumulating enough points, you become a Green, then a Gold member. Achieving these elite Starbucks memberships allows you to access offers such as free refills, a free drink on your birthday, discounts, free food, etc. It's quite awesome. If you are a daily Starbucks user, be sure to download the app and load up on gift cards so you can start saving.

David Bell is a young entrepreneur in Winnipeg. He specializes in emerging technology and online aspects of business, including web and social media consulting. Access his company online at iBXMediaGroup.ca. He is an active member of the YouTube community (http://www.TheDavidBell.com), with more than two million views and 5,000 subscribers. He was also a Dragons' Den contestant.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 6, 2013 A15

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