WELCOME ABOARD the Neverending Ocean Cruise!

Welcome to the deep end,
Glad To Have You Here
...where we find shorter spaces between us.
-- Bobby Ocean

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Et Tu, Google? 

From the Relevance Champions, Google:
A graphic has received  promotion. The top Google Dogs have decided to move their popular new status weighted ad vehicle, Hotpot, up the chain of eminence in its inventory. It is to become a permanent part of the search engine-turned-online directory's core local listing offering, Google Places." OK, so far...

But, as they continue, things get murky: "It is hoped," they tell us, "this choice will help simplify the connection between the places that are reviewed by millions of people who search for and find them every day, and..." THE MORE THAN 50 MILLION OTHER SPOTS that merely have a free online presence through Google Places and nothing more.

Plenty simple. Google is in it for the money, natch, and here's where the freebees end.

Feel the pressure? It's being turned up, and not too subtly either. The message is: HEY, YOU: Get that little red graphic splotch, ON TOP OF the free listing, OR BE LEFT OUT. No hot little dot and you instantly become one of the unnoticed "others," an also-ran, a loser, invisible.

Sound the bugle: this is a rare Google misstep.

By choosing to make it a "must have/must pay for," icon, Google's recently created upside-down red questionmark shape pretty much leaves us questioning their intelligence, while, at the same time, damns the rest of what the prestigious online leader has working towards for the past several years. Suddenly, almost overnight, the graphic-for-hire is rendering their "ordinary" Google listings, maps and searches as "IRRELEVANT."

If you were ever curious about what it looked like to see someone shoot themselves in the foot, there it is. Gawk and enjoy.

Damn, and I like Google, too. But- no longer trustworthy, no longer dependable.

Many asked at Hotpot’s launch: Why that name, "Hot-POT?" [I always thought it was "HotSPOT," which makes infinitely more sense until they straightened me out with this article] which, in effect, leads to migraine confusion.

They explain, "Hotpot," the dish, not the medical herb, is meant to describe a "shared eating experience." (I would LOVE to have been in the meeting that made this determination) To Google chieftains, [appearing more and more to us now, a being brought up, without siblings, as only children] the name embodied the "communal experience of sharing your ratings and reviews with friends," and hopefully getting recommendations in return. [Not to mention the amped-up bad feelings generated between competing businesses.]

Hopefully? Hmmm... I hope monkeys fly out of my butt, showering me with crisp hundred dollar bills. And they will...hopefully.

Also, hopefully, Google can answer this question: why, in the middle of all this six-city testing and associated pomp, why would anyone in their right mind CHANGE THE BRAND NAME? Yes, it's a wacky name but you went with it, tested it and now it has been established in major US cities. Changing the name at this juncture flys in the face of clarity. We need clarity right now. The web's social media is changing fast, and all the time. That's confusing enough. (see earlier blog "Losing Face" <http://bobby-ocean.blogspot.com/2011/04/losing-face.html>)

Google reasons without further explanation, as if they are the only site on the internet, that although their brand new name Hotpot may be going away, (huh?) we can expect even more “Hotpotness” (huh?) in Google Places.

They actually said that. "Hotpotness." My face is red for them.

As if that ridiculous word, from which even Madison Avenue would recoil, might be capable of explaining ANYTHING. Go on, try it: Interpret "hotpotness" in any other context. OOP, sorry, can't let that one slip by, dear Google. You're the ones that set so high a standard, and I love you, but that's just plain B-Sness, one friend to another. There is no meaning to it at all. It's just some beleaguered writer's not-too-clever attempt at saying "I really don't know how to explain this to you any better..."

Goog: "...We have big plans to continue adding more features to Google Places that make it even easier to rate, discover and share the places you love whenever you’re using Google..."

(More features? Should we be thankful? Any gratitude is severly tempered with the reality of having to sit through another learning curve, and then another and another, because you guys got together and had a meeting? "Whenever" is going to be curtailed because it's lost the fun factor, is now something we do not understand and are required to LEARN. Google Places is getting itself in the same hole Facebook slipped into, difficult to use or understand anymore.

There is an abrupt perception today that the Google folk took something cool away from us, have stopped offering a genuine service and are now doing whatever pleases them or turns a buck. Their philosophy of being "Relevant" has been displaced. Google is rapidly becoming easier to recognize as "Ruthless."

Open Question to Google Powers That Be: You DO realize that you distance us with each of these cryptic decisions, right?

"So stay tuned to the new Google Places Blog," they continue (and did you even KNOW they had a blog? If so, you are among the rarified few). It's more of a warning than chat-friendly blog. On the way to a confused cerebral cortex near you will be a flurry of new Google product updates, tips, tricks and news from their six test city campaigns.

Great. For Social Media Marketers, not for Main Street USA. This pinata load of new doo-dads and widgets, introduced as "easier," means more and more confused people who just throw their hands up in frustration. The constant new buttons and switches at which they must become proficient is looked upon as a major inconvenience. "What have they done to my Google?"

We who work the web by vocation learn this stuff because we have to, because we have undertaken the task to make businesses grow. Once friendly social portals are now acting more and more independently of each other, while promising to connect and make thing simpler. It's the opposite.

Google has Places, Facebook has Places and their "Places" mean entirely different things. Now Hotpot is changing its name. To what, "Hot Place?" Sheesh.

Overwhelmed, average business owners, wanting to remain in the game,  are more likely to come to strategic social media firms like mine for interpretation and execution. Professionals in this arena can offer businesses real help, instead of an always-changing, uncertain workplace, populated by eternally new, cute little nicknames, all of which have been reviewed and voted on by a slew of online dictatorships with superficially endearing names of their own like "Yahoo" or "Google."

Could it be these once relevant sites are finally growing into their names?


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