Google is no stranger to controversy, especially when it comes to their own business decisions. They’ve made no secret about their desire to see as many Google users as possible adopt their Cloud and Social services, and they’re willing to court considerable displeasure among online businesses in the process.
The latest game-changer, coming hot on the heels of their YouTube/Google+ integration, is adding the ability of Google Plus members to send emails to anyone else on G+, even without knowing their address.
Is this an innovation in communications and social media marketing? Or an invitation to privacy invasion? Let’s take a look.
Taking Google+ Messaging Straight To Gmail
The basic facts of the matter are these, from Google’s official blog:
- Anyone on G+ can email nearly anyone else in Google’s system, through a simple name search.
- An option to stop receiving blindly-sent messages has been added, but it is opt-out and it’s likely many users won’t know the choice is there.
- A blind-mailing G+ user cannot see the recipient’s email unless they reply. Likewise, the recipient cannot see the sender’s email without a reply. However, this may also not be widely known.
- Gmail auto-sorts the messages on the user’s end. If the recipient is part of a Circle with the sender, it goes to their “Primary” inbox. If they have no connection to the sender, it’s placed in the “Social” folder instead.
Social Media Marketing Benefits To Google+ Changes
Let’s focus on the good first: This makes it a lot easier to get into direct contact with people who want to hear from you, even if you haven’t formally exchanged email addresses. If you’re in a Circle with someone, for example, it gives you an opportunity to introduce yourself in a private setting.
For businesses investing in Google Apps or their other cloud-based initiatives, this also can solve problems with employees connecting with each other successfully.
It seems clear Google thinks that any features that open up new avenues of communication are a good thing, and broadly speaking, that’s probably true. However, it’s also clear that there are plenty of ways this feature could just annoy end users.
Be Very Careful When Blind-Mailing
Given that it’s likely few people will opt-out of receiving these blind messages, it means they’re going to get annoyed at the senders if they feel a message is unwelcome.
With this in mind, we have a few hypothetical guidelines for helping you use these new features in recipient-friendly ways:
1. Don’t blindly email someone you’ve had no previous contact with. Establish some sort of connection with them through a more public source first.
2. In the same way you might apologize for showing up uninvited at someone’s home or office, a quick pre-emptive apology at the start of the uninvited email will likely go a long way towards smoothing any ruffled feathers.
3. Keep it short and simple. Consider the initial message a “value proposition” inviting them into further conversation with you. A long uninvited missive will almost certainly be ignored, if not blocked or reported.
4. Think “context.” Is the recipient likely to get your message at a time and place it would be welcome, or will it be an annoying distraction?
5. ALWAYS, and without delay, respect any request to discontinue direct contact when using social media marketing this way.
Focus On The Recipient
Like any new communications tool, this G+/Gmail integration can ultimately result in positive OR negative consumer interactions. Respecting the privacy and personal agency in your recipients will be key to successfully working these new features into your social media strategies. If you are not sure how to benefit from this opportunity, contact Tempo for a social media marketing strategy. What are your thoughts?
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By: Charmon Stiles, Tempo Creative