Gmail’s New Look

Google seems to be ever-changing and upgrading these days. This week they released the new Gmail and Google Reader layout. The new layout is supposed to be about making your view more streamlined and efficient, although some users have a different take on this. Eventually, most of us will get used to the new layout, but lost functionality is a different story. Negative posts and reactions have been voiced, mostly pertaining to the changes to Google Reader, where you can no longer one-click share to social sites unless it’s to Google+. Check out the tweets that turn up when you search for @googlereader in Twitter:

Not only are people angry about this change for future sharing, they were also given no warning and so people that have used Reader to push content to their sites or blogs have lost that content. A little heads up would have been nice! The root issue behind this change is that it is disrupting the communities that we have formed and people can no longer communicate and share with their community, at least not through your Google Reader. And having to +1 something before it can be shared can even make people not want to share at all. How do you feel about having to share publicly first if you want to share with your network? A former Google employee even offered his services to come back on a contract to fix the Google Reader.

Google’s New Search Algorithm

Another update from Google this week is talk about their new infrastructure, Caffeine, which makes crawled content available in our search results more quickly because as soon as a page is crawled, it’s made available in our searches. Now it is reported that not only will results be “fresher,” it will also change 35% of your search results. This will impact your searches related to recent events or trending topics because Caffeine will be able to crawl those news stories or posts that people wrote maybe only minutes ago while they are at an event like Occupy Toronto. This seems a bit like Twitter where your searches will always be updating. If you search something in the morning, your results could very well be different by lunch.

Because I use Google often for research, I’m excited about this change. For example, if I want to know the best practices for measuring social media engagement, I can type this in and Google will now pull up the most recent reports and studies on this topic. If I did the same research a year from now, I would not want to see those same reports, because they are now outdated.

Another type of search this “freshness” factor is great for is when you are searching an event that is regularly occurring. Now, Google will know that when you type in “Who went home on America’s Next Top Model last night,” you will see highlights from this week’s episode and not say from Cycle 7, several years ago. Now you can make your searches with less thought, you don’t have to think about dates and specific keywords because it’s like Google is in your head, it knows what you want to see and read about.

This seems great – who doesn’t want the most recent news? But there is a potential downside, too. Although a story may be the most recently posted, this doesn’t always mean it is the most up-to-date. Think about people reading stories and then sharing them on their own blog. Their blog post may occur a few days after the original story, making it more “fresh,” but there is no promise that there haven’t been more updates to the story since the original story. So we must be careful.

Social Timing Insights Infographic

Speaking of “freshness” and timing, check out this Infographic for insights in social timing.

When your brand is posting on Facebook and Twitter, are you thinking about what your customers are doing at that moment? You wouldn’t want to post when most of your audience is busy and your update just gets pushed down their News Feed, so they may not see it. This Infographic gives us insight into when customers are most receptive so that you can reach the most customers and achieve maximum engagement.

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