Guy Kawasaki, who says he loves Google+MarketingProfs recently published an article by Guy Kawasaki, a well-known author and social media expert, on the advantages of Google+. It's an informative piece, and I've quoted the entire article below for its information value. Nevertheless, I don't agree with the basic premise of the article.

Here's why:

  1. I don't buy his argument at the end that Google+ = passion. Do you use Google+ on a regular basis? Do you know anyone who does? Is passion the driving force for using it? That seems like a weak argument to me.
  2. Whatever amazing technical capabilities or potential the social media app may have, if people aren't using it is there value in it? If you build a product that nobody seems to want or ask for, is it a valuable product?
  3. In general I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but I have to confess a suspicion that Google compensated him to write this article. Perhaps that suspicion is unfounded, but I'm sure we'll never know.

Still, I think a cautious approach is reasonable. Maybe dip your toe in the water. I wouldn't spend a ton of time on it (because you're not likely to get any return on that investment of time), but I would certainly continue to listen for signals that Google+ is starting to take off.

With that introduction, here's the article. You can judge for yourself how compelling the argument and how genuine the sentiment...

* * * * *

Why I love Google+ by Guy Kawasaki

More than 850,000 people follow me on Twitter, and 171,000 people subscribe to my Facebook account, so I'm not a newbie to social media. Like many people, I need another social media service like I need more email... or my dog to throw up on my carpet.

And yet I jumped on Google+ (after I figured out how to publicly share posts, anyway). I spend two hours a day on Google+ because doing so is enjoyable and good for my brand as a writer, speaker, and startup-company adviser. Or, more truthfully, using Google+ is so enjoyable that I rationalize that it's good for my brand.

In addition to my fondness for its members and their comments, Google+ embodies many appealing attributes that make social networking better. Here's how Google+, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest compare along some parameters that are important to me:

Guy Kawasaki's Analysis of Social Media Platforms

Google+, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest are in a constant features race, so this chart is ever changing. However, the chart shows a trend: Google+ has powerful and sophisticated features that the competition doesn't, and Google+ does things in ways that make more sense to me.

For example, did you know that all your friends and followers on Facebook cannot see your updates? The following Facebook Insights report shows that only 6,700 of the 33,754 fans of my Enchantment book page could have seen my updates. (Some studies indicate that only 12% of your buddies on Facebook can see your updates.) By contrast, 100% of my followers on Google+ can see what I post there.

Also, Facebook groups individual photos from separate posts, and makes one post out of them. For example, during a visit to the University of Oregon, I posted three photos over an eight-hour period. Each photo post was separate, and Facebook decided to glom them together. If I wanted them together, I would have created an album. I wanted separate posts.

Google+ would win if Facebook and Twitter launched today. However, Facebook and Twitter started more than five years before Google+, and they amassed large customer bases before Google+ entered the market. A good analogy is that people don't enjoy a small party (Google+) where they don't know anyone, compared with a big party (Facebook and Twitter) where they know lots of people.

My counterargument is that it's your own fault if you don't have a good time at a small party where many beautiful and interesting people are hanging out.

Rational Exuberance

If Google+ was "two guys/gals in a garage with seed funding," I would adopt a wait-and-see attitude, but that is hardly the case. Although new projects have failed at Google before (like at many large companies), that doesn't mean search is the only thing Google can do.

"Google+ is Google itself. We're extending it across all that we do—search, ads, Chrome, Android, Maps, YouTube—so that each of those services contributes to our understanding of who you are." —Bradley Horowitz, vice-president, products for Google+, Google. Wired, September 27, 2011

As my mother used to say, "Some things need to be believed to be seen." So, here is why I believe in Google+ even before I've seen 800 million people (the number that Facebook bandies about) get on it.

1. Google has a track record

Google has delivered better mousetraps when most people didn't think better mousetraps were necessary. For example, Yahoo, Inktomi, and Alta Vista were good enough for searching, and Hotmail was good enough for email. Google's record isn't flawless, but no company's is. Even Apple had the Apple III, LISA, Newton, and Macintosh Office.

2. Google is dead serious about this business

Insiders tell me Google+ is one of the top priorities of Google. The social network is not an experiment or project buried within another business unit. The guy who runs Google+, Vic Gundotra, reports directly to Larry Page, Google's chief executive officer. Google+ is a core part of the functionality of all of Google, and it would be astoundingly embarrassing to Google if Google+ were to fail.

3. Google has infinite money and talent

Infinite money and talent doesn't mean an organization is infallible, as Webvan ($1.2 billion invested so people could order asparagus online), Lehman Brothers, and Enron have proven. But infinite money and talent doesn't guarantee you'll fail, either. Google is assaulting two big companies on their established turfs, so money and talent are necessary in this battle.

4. Google owns the river

In ancient lore, one of the labors assigned to Hercules was to clean the huge Augean stables in a day. Hercules accomplished that herculean task by diverting the Alpheus and Peneus rivers through the stables. Google owns one of the biggest rivers of Internet traffic—search—and it can divert people to Google+ anytime it wants. For example, when Google placed an arrow on its search page pointing to the button to click to join Google+, hundreds of thousands of people joined.

5. Google owns the playing field

Google can do more than merely tilt the playing field, because it owns the playing field. For example, Google integrated Google+ into search results, and Samsung phones and tablets come with the Google+ application installed. Google bought Motorola's phone business, so we can assume similar integration will happen with Motorola phones and tablets, too. Gmail account holders automatically have a Google+ account. In the future, Chrome, Google's browser which recently surpassed Firefox in popularity, will incorporate Google+ also.

When you add up those factors, Google brings indomitable power to Google+—roughly equal, I'd say, to Apple's having Steve Jobs as a CEO. (This statement is a compliment to both Google and Steve.)

Perceptions, People, Pictures, or Passions?

The key to social media is to use the right tool for the job. Not everyone should use Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest or Google+, because everyone's needs are different. Moreover, those services are not mutually exclusive, so you can use each for different purposes if you wish.

Still, the question remains, Should you use Google+? Here's how to decide:

Twitter = Perceptions. Twitter is a great tool for receiving or sending immediate perceptions, such as witnessing news and events. In other words, if you want to learn that an earthquake has struck Chile before CNN, and you like getting updates from Chileans at ground zero, then Twitter is for you. In short, Twitter is for real-time perceptions.

Facebook = People. Facebook is the way to learn what's going on in the lives of people you already know (friends, relatives, and colleagues). Facebook is great for learning that a friend's cats rolled over, that she went to a great party, or that she had sex, kittens, or children. In short, Facebook is for people.

Pinterest = Pictures. Pinterest is an online bulletin board where people post pictures of what they consider beautiful, cool, and neat. Where pictures are 5% of the action on Twitter and 25% of the action on Facebook and Google+, they are 95% of the action on Pinterest. Pinterest is light, playful, and fun. In short, Pinterest is for pictures.

Google+ = Passions. Google+ enables you to pursue your passions with people you don't know. Your 200 friends and family on Facebook may not share your passion for photography, but on Google+ you can have a blast with a community of photographers. In short, Google+ is for passions.

Conclusion

Do you want to enhance and expand the number of people who share your passions and interact with them via posts and comments? If so, focus on Google+. If you don't, stick with Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn until Google+ reaches critical mass. Or, if you just want to have fun posting pictures of cool stuff, use Pinterest.

Or, you may decide you need multiple services: Twitter for perceptions, Facebook for people, Pinterest for pictures, and Google+ for passions. That's OK, too.

A woman I know, Mira Wooten, recently published her first book, Welcome to Love. Wondering if she could use Facebook to sell copies, she placed an ad. Here’s how she tells it:

“I tried using FB Ads to promote my new book, Welcome to Love. It's a romance book based in Austin. I targeted the demographic to women in Austin who had reading listed as an interest. According to FB, it got over 64,000 impressions over the two days I had it live. A total of 133 people clicked on the ad that took them to my Amazon web page. The cost per click varied between.79 -.93 per click. I spent a total of $103.48. I sold zero books during that time period. The cost per click seemed to vary depending on the day and time. Weekends were cheaper. I wouldn't do it again.”

Her experience reminds me of a story that NPR’s Planet Money reported about two guys who own a small pizza place in New Orleans. Recently they decided to dip their toes into Facebook advertising. I spare you the details, but it's a good story. The bottom line is this: They ran a Facebook ad campaign. It cost them $240. The result? One new customer made a $10 “donation” to the restaurant.

“That return — $10 on a $240 investment — isn't much. Maybe at some point, the new Pizza Delicious fans will show up and buy some pizza. But social advertising is so new that nobody knows for sure. It's still unproven, untested and largely unstudied.”

Facebook AdClearly, this isn’t enough data to draw any definitive conclusions, but it does make you wonder. Can Facebook advertising work for small businesses? Is there a better approach to Facebook for small businesses than using it for advertising?

I need to learn more about how other small businesses are doing with their Facebook ads. And whether or not Facebook ads are the answer, I certainly believe in the effectiveness (and necessity) of online marketing for small businesses like restaurants and wineries.

Note: Graphic borrowed from a blog post on Entrepreneur.com: "Facebook Ads: Worth the Money?"

Cherries!

Posted on May 31, 2012

I love this time of year. Cherries are the harbinger of fruit season here in California. They herald the coming bounty of great stone fruit – nectarines, peaches, and apricots. They presage the wide range of berries, from blueberries to raspberries, blackberries, and my favorite: olallieberries. Later in the season, apples ripen, and eventually into September and October the wine grapes are ready. But for me it all starts with cherries – sweet, dark, crisp cherries.

Cherries from Nola Orchards in Stockton, Calif.

This photo was taken by Julianne Nola, shortly after she and her daughters picked these cherries at her parents' orchard in Stockton, Calif.

2012 is looking to be a good year for cherries. The spring was dry and the blossoms pollinated nicely. The fruit set well and abundantly. Harvest, the most critical time for cherry farmers, has been blessedly dry. And the trees are heavy with beautiful, good size cherries. It should be an excellent crop.

That's certainly not the case every year. Cherries are a particularly challenging crop to farm because of rain. A heavy rain right before or during harvest will cause the fruit to split, and it's not uncommon to get some rain when the fruit is just ripening. Split cherries can't be marketed. They don't sell. So when it rains in May, the cherry farmers pray.

Losing a portion of the crop is not unusual, but some years are far worse than others. For Nola Orchards and other cherry farmers in the Central Valley, last year was a disaster. Julie's family lost the entire crop due to rain at the wrong time. It's difficult for most of us to know what that feels like – to work the entire year, tending to the trees, fertilizing, watering, spraying, paying for labor – and then have absolutely nothing to show for it. Crop insurance covers some of the cost, but it doesn't provide income. 2011 was a tough year for a lot of cherry farmers.

And that's why the picture above, a small sign of this year's bounty, is such a joy to share. After last year's difficult cherry season, those sweet beauties taste even sweeter.

This presentation explains the importance of an online marketing and social media strategy for restaurants today.

[slideshare id=13037506&doc=26-brix-socialmediapresentation-120522224514-phpapp02]

Why do online marketing and social media matter for restaurants?

  • Your website is your image, your brand, your reputation, and your storefront
  • The Internet is how people will find you
  • Social media is how Gen Y will evaluate you and decide to become customers
  • Social media and email help you maintain relationships with customers when they're not in your restaurant
  • Your website, social media, and email marketing have a multiplying effect in increasing repeat sales

Ultimately it's about connecting to customers, generating revenue, and growing the business. At the end of the day, that's why restaurants (and other small businesses) must be online and active in social media.

“No matter what you think about social media personally, your customers are moving online and into the social web in droves, so you and your organization have little choice but to figure out how to benefit from this evolution.”  – John Jantsch, author of Duct Tape Marketing

At 26 Brix, we offer a social media strategy for restaurants and wineries in order to help them use online marketing tools more effectively.

Blackbird Kitchen & Bar is a new, well-regarded restaurant in Sacramento. Anyone living in the area who appreciates great food and great service should check it out.

Blackbird Kitchen & Bar is primarily a seafood restaurant, and everything we had (from clam chowder and raw Arctic char for appetizers to mussels and whole roasted trout for entrees) was stellar. Our waiter was extremely informed about all aspects of the bar, wine, and food, answering all of our questions (which were many) with poise and patience (especially considering he was also dealing with an obnoxious and loud table next to us). The wine list, though not extensive, was veryinteresting with an unusual selection of mostly European Wines. My girlfriend had a GSM blend (grenache, syrah, mourvèdre) from the Rhône, I had a German riesling which, with its good acidity and mineral quality, was a nice complement to the rich and smoky chowder. And the wines, like the food, were very reasonably priced, I thought.

This restaurant received a fair amount of hype before it opened, and I'm pleased to report that (in my opinion anyway) it lives up to its reputation.

Route 3 Wines 2009 Syrah

Posted on May 17, 2012

Route 3 Wines 2009 Syrah is a pleasant red wine, a good choice to serve this summer alongside grilled pork chops or chicken.

Route 3 2009 Syrah

Route 3 Wines 2009 Syrah. Pork chop with collard greens sautéed in bacon fat.

According to Craig Jones, the sales and marketing director at Route 3 Wines, the 2009 syrah is a lighter wine than the previous vintage. I haven't tasted the 2008, but I would agree with his assessment of the '09 vintage. Syrah can be a masculine wine, but this is a softer version, a comfortable, very approachable wine that is eminently drinkable today.

In the Wine Bible, Karen MacNeil recalls the story of George Saintsbury, a famous British scholar and wine writer, describing the Rhône wine Hermitage as "the manliest wine" he'd ever had. Syrah is one of the principle grapes of the Rhône wine region in southern France, and Hermitage itself is made exclusively from syrah. At its best, syrah makes intense, spicy, and quite peppery wines. MacNeil describes them as having "potent and exuberant aromas and flavors [that] lean toward leather, damp earth, wild blackberries, smoke, roasted meats, and especially pepper and spice."

While the Route 3 2009 Syrah suggests these flavors, especially blackberries and a touch of smokiness, it's a more sedate style than the classic Rhône wine. Let's just say it's not afraid to show its feminine side.

Tasting Notes for Route 3 Wines 2009 Syrah

With 15.4% alcohol (according to the label), the Route 3 2009 Syrah has nice texture and mouthfeel. Despite the ripeness suggested by the alcohol level, it also has very good acidity, giving it fresh, bright quality with cherry and berry flavors. The oak is nicely integrated, subtle yet present enough to add vanilla and a layer of complexity. The overall softness made me think of a chianti (or sangiovese), and its approachable character makes it an appealing summer wine, in my opinion. I suggest chilling it ever so slightly so that it's cooler than room temperature (but not cold), which I think adds to the fresh, soft appeal of this very friendly (and reasonably priced) red wine from the Dunnigan Hills AVA in Yolo County.

Disclosure: I purchased this wine at Nugget Market in Woodland, Calif. for $10. It's also available for purchase online.

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Yolo County produces high-quality wines at very affordable prices. Perhaps that’s not news to you, but it was to me.

I should know better.

During my love affair with wine, I’ve always focused on the major wine regions in California (especially Napa and Sonoma, but also Amador, the Central Coast, and Mendocino). I’ve neglected the wines in my own backyard.

If I’m completely honest, I have to admit I’ve been kind of a snob.

No longer. Thanks to the Roots to Wine event that took place recently in Winters, Calif., I discovered that Yolo County, where I live, is home to high-quality and affordable wines. And now I’m happy to share this “news” with you.

The 2nd annual “Wine & Art in the Park" event, which took place on May 12, 2012, featured wines by local wineries Berryessa Gap Vineyards, Capay Valley Vineyards, Casey Flat Ranch, Crew Wine Company, Julie LePla Winery, Putah Creek Winery, Route 3 Wines, Séka Hills, Simas Family Winery, and Turkovich Family Wines.

Bringing Recognition to a Little-Known Region with Quality Wines

These wineries are all members of Roots to Wine, an association with the purpose of promoting “wine grape growers and wine producers with production in the five designated adjacent areas along the western edge of Yolo County and the northwest corner of Solano County.” According to a 2011 press release, “The formation of this group [is] designed to bring recognition to the region for its quality wine.” I’m here to confirm that it’s succeeding.

(Note: Rominger West Winery in Davis, Calif., is also a member of Roots to Wine, but sadly the winery shut its doors earlier this month.)

The biggest name in the group is Crew Wine Company, which markets its wines under four labels: Matchbook, Mossback, Sawbuck, and Chasing Venus. The owners, John and Lane Giguiere, have been growing wine grapes and producing wines for over 30 years. They started the once nationally recognized winery R.H. Phillips, with its popular Toasted Head label. R.H. Phillips went public in 1995 and was eventually acquired by Vincor International in 2000. The Giguieres started Crew Wine Company in 2005 and then established the Matchbook label. I was told by Lane Giguiere that the winery now produces 75,000 cases per year. Not bad for a local Yolo County winery in the little known Dunnigan Hills AVA.

I was quite pleased with the lineup of wines that John and Lane were pouring at the event. One in particular that surprised me was the Chasing Venus sauvignon blanc. This wine is produced by the Giguieres in New Zealand with help from the winemaker at Kim Crawford, another outstanding producer of NZ wines. The Chasing Venus sauvignon blanc has that great New Zealand character: striking floral quality with bracing acidity; truly a delight.

Okay, so Chasing Venus is not exactly a local wine, but it is owned locally. And that’s good enough for me.

At the event, I met winemakers and reps from several wineries and tasted some excellent Yolo wines, which were also quite reasonably priced. The first wines I tasted at the event were from Putah Creek Winery in Davis, poured by assistant winemaker and sales manager, Nicole Salengo (in photo with Chris from Turkovich). I knew right away that I had been ignoring Yolo wines for much too long.

I’ve already written about Route 3 albariño, and I’ll have more to say about this winery at some point; I’m looking forward to tasting their syrah and merlot.

I was particularly impressed by Turkovich Family Wines, which I hope to write more about in a future post. I was especially intrigued by their Rhone-style GSM wines (grenache, syrah, and mourvedre). There’s much more to say about these wines in the future.

If you live in Sacramento, Solano County, or Yolo County, and you’re into the whole eat local scene, you owe it to yourself to join the drink local movement too. (All right, I made that up. But who knows? Maybe there is a drink local movement out there.) In any event, check out these wineries. I'm willing to bet that, like me, you’ll find yourself pleasantly surprised by the quality, variety, and price.

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