How Google+ is really f***ing up marketing

It used to be so easy to be a marketer. Have a story. Spend money in the most efficient place to get that story out to the most people possible.

For instance, I was talking with a marketer from General Motors. She told me why they are going to SXSW: that's where the geeks are and where it's efficient to hit a ton of them quickly with their messages.

But Google+ screwed that all up last week with its new video hangout features.

Here's why.

See, it used to be that you actually had to go where the people are, like General Motors is doing with SXSW. Or you had to spend money on advertising, to hit them where they are, like a Super Bowl commercial.

But now you can reach hundreds of thousands of people (more than will attend SXSW) by making media.

Now, what makes better media? 1,000 people getting drunk at your SXSW party? Or having 15 people on a bus who you like?

Having 1,000 listening to a band in a noisy bar? Or 100 listening to a band in a well designed studio? (Ask Austin City Limits' audio engineer about that one: <<-- one of my most fun interviews, because I got a good look at REM while doing it).

Last week Google+ started testing a new feature that's gonna change marketing forever: video streaming from hangouts.

What does that do?

It lets you get eight people together to do something fun.
It lets you stream that eight-person hangout LIVE to everyone in the world.
It lets you record that hangout and put it up on YouTube for everyone else to watch later.

Now it has bugs (yesterday we did one and it didn't record) but Google will fix that. That's why it's not available to everyone yet (only 200 early testers have this feature).

I'll be using this feature a lot. Tonight we're going to try it again as gadget freak +Sam Levin comes over my house and we'll talk about what's coming at CES (we're driving down there) and what's coming from Teens in Tech (he's helping +Daniel Brusilovsky run that event and company).

At +Rackspace Hosting internally we're seeing just the strain that this new view of the world is having: we're trying to decide whether to spend $100,000 on an event in Austin at SXSW or whether to have a smaller, more intimate, event at our headquarters in San Antonio (an hour drive away).

You know which way I'm arguing, right? If we do it at headquarters we can have dozens of Google Hangouts with all of you and include you in some really deep tech talks and other events. Why? Because we have conference rooms here with projectors, wifi, and tech support to make it happen. If we do the event at a bar on Sixth street we'll get a lot more people drunk, but that isn't a good place to do a Hackathon or do Google+ hangouts.

So, which one will win the marketing battle? That's up to you. The "experts" like PR maven +Brooke Hammerling (her events at CES get the world's top press, like Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher, to show up) are saying to "stay in town." You can see the fight in a thread over on Facebook that I started:

But I know it will work. Why? Last year I took 15 people away from Austin. We headed to Lockhart, Texas, to have BBQ. We used +Tony Hsieh's "Delivering Happiness" bus (he's Zappos' CEO). It was -- by far -- the favorite thing I did last year at SXSW. The rest of it was pretty lame, except for the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches folks were making in the lobby of our hotel at 2 a.m. Either way, I'm gonna do the bus ride again, which left from +Foodspotting's outdoor food truck event. Hey +Alexa Andrzejewski we gotta get you to Lockhart this time, there's no better BBQ in Texas!

So, here's the question. Want to hang out with me in San Antonio at SXSW?

Want to show the world how Google+ has f***ed up marketing?
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