Keep Your Branding Consistent on Multiple Platforms

By Janine Warner, David LaFontaine

Sure, the Google+ environment is still fairly nerd-heavy. Users tend to be the types of contrarians who stop following their favorite rock band the minute all their friends start Liking it on Facebook, too. And there is a sizable Google+ loyalist contingent of folks fleeing the incessant notifications from Facebook friends as to how many virtual cows have been virtually milked this afternoon.

The math geeks at Google brought in some design professionals and actually started incorporating what they say into the overall design scheme. Before this, Google was clueless about design — it famously tested 41 different shades of blue to figure out what to use on a toolbar.

If you’ve already checked out YouTube, you’ll notice a similarity to the design layouts that are allowed for Google+. This isn’t an accident.

In April 2011, Google launched “Project Kennedy,” aimed at streamlining the design sense of all Google products so that as users got the same look and feel from all of their sites. The fonts and typography were streamlined, the pages started getting more white space so they didn’t feel so crowded, and the images started getting bigger. In fact, Google’s social media profiles allow you to use the largest images.

The design effort came because all the different divisions within Google finally started talking with each other, and they realized that if they broke things down into basic units called “cards,” those cards could then be shared from one platform to another.

Thus, Liking a video on YouTube, such as the NASA video, causes a “card” to appear on your Google+ profile that includes thumbnails of other Google+ users who have Liked or commented on the video. Other Google+ users can vote using the buttons to give you a “+1” to a post (which translates into a “thumbs-up”). Of course, users can also give a “–1” and vote a post down.

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The connection between YouTube and Google+ makes it easy to share a post with your friends across multiple sites.

On a large computer display, the Google+ layout is three cards wide. That is, underneath the banner image, three posts appear side by side. The layout is one or two cards wide on a mobile phone or tablet display (respectively).

For posts from people that you pay particular attention to or that contain the type of content that Google’s algorithms determine you are likely to respond to, the layout shifts to a card that takes up all three columns.

[Credit: Primary post and photo by Glyn Dewis]
Credit: Primary post and photo by Glyn Dewis

Unlike Facebook, for example, where there is just the wide single column running down the page, the Google+ layout allows viewers to more quickly scan the content available for them. Another differentiator for Google+ is that animated GIFs are allowed. (Several apps can help you create an animated GIF; Tumblr is another service that allows animated GIFs.)

The cross-platform movement also extends to the popular blogging platforms of Typepad and WordPress, via the Author Attribution function. When you use your Google+ account to log in to your blog, your posts automatically link to your Google+ profiles.

But this isn’t just a one-way street. Open the drop-down menu in the upper-right corner of a Google+ post, and you can grab a snippet of code that allows you to embed the post into your own blog or website, with all the same functionality (share, Like, comment) of the original Google+ post preserved.

If you’re a more advanced user, check out Google+ Ripples, which is a tracking and analytics tool to allow you to see how popular and viral a post has been.

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As you can see, the analytics not only show who has been sharing and reacting to the NASA post about the launch of the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) probe, but it breaks down the number of shares on a timeline, how many times per hour the post is shared, and what languages it is shared in.

If you want to track your social media marketing campaigns, this is a gold mine of information — which, given that Google supports all its products by making it easy for people and brands to advertise, makes sense to use.