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Hanging Out with the Muppets on Google+

I have a confession to make – I am terrified of Google+.  I was so traumatized by the death of Friendster that I skipped MySpace altogether and resisted Facebook for years. Now that I’ve come to love Facebook, I’m scared to send it to the Friendster graveyard if we all adopt Google+.

It was only a few days ago that I found something that peaked my interest in Google+.  I watched an interview with Kermit [1] where he stated that “the Muppets are one of the first official brands on Google+.”  Because at heart I’m still a 5 year-old conditioned to do what my favorite tv shows tell me to do and buy, I decided to check out The Muppets Google+ page.

29 year-old me wanted to see how one of the most recognizable brands in the world has mobilized their Google+ page. Google+ launched their business pages on Nov 7 [2], just in time for The Muppets to begin the home stretch of promoting their movie coming out on Nov 23.  Since The Muppets’ marketing team was actively promoting the movie on various social media channels, it made sense for them to form a partnership with Google as well.  Wearing Dr. Bunsen Honeydew [3]’s lab coat for a second, I hypothesize that Disney’s primary marketing goal is to dominate the Thanksgiving weekend box office.  Will this crowd be reached by The Muppets’ Google+ page?

To test my hypothesis I asked TSA’s resident Google+ expert, +t1c1 [4], whether he was: 1) A Muppets fan and 2) aware that the movie was being released next week.  If The Muppets Google+ brand page was fulfilling its objective of reaching its fans and informing them of the movie’s release date, then +t1c1 would certainly know about the movie release.  Right?

+t1c1 answered: 1) Yes, he is a fan of The Muppets and has seen every episode of Fraggle Rock, 2) He thought the movie was being released in December.

Let me reiterate – this guy is the Big Bird of Google+.  He logs on for Hangouts with Michael Dell.  If the Muppets’ Google+ page didn’t reach him, I don’t know who they were able to get.  -1 Google+.

I can’t just let one person be my data set here, so to avoid pulling a Gonzo I decided I should objectively analyze the actual Muppets Google+ page [5] and see if they were doing anything wrong. I was impressed by the minimalist aesthetics of the page.  It’s clean, streamlined, and without the clutter that other platforms (ahem) may have.  I appreciate that it is more of a personal page with beautiful behind the scenes photos of The Muppets’ promotional tour.  I felt like a privileged observer as I browsed through photos of the Swedish Chef cooking with Emeril Lagasse, Miss Piggy posing with Lady Antebellum, and Kermit meeting Sofia Vergara. These candid photos give the Google+ page a more personal feel instead of cluttering our eyeballs with carefully tested marketing materials.  There are no blinking calls to action, no promotional contests, no huge buttons meep meeping “CONVERT!!!!!”  The Google+ page is like a conversation amongst the fans that gets a more exclusive look at the day-to-day activities of our favorite Muppets.  I can certainly see how businesses can leverage this medium to build customer relations and provide customer support.

And, of course, I can’t leave out the biggest win of all – a HANGOUT with Kermit and Miss Piggy [1].  Who hasn’t fantasized about hanging out with our favorite Muppet characters?  Kermit was loveably awkward.  Miss Piggy “insists on being in all of the most important Circles” (wocka wocka!).  For us civilians who don’t get celebrity access to the Muppets, this Hangout is so incredibly endearing and makes us want to see purchase tickets immediately.  +1 Google+.

So this is the point in the program where the honeymoon ends and I take on the role of Statler and Waldorf [6] in critiquing Google+. Here’s my complaint of the moment – didn’t Google Music [7] JUST have a massively publicized launch party to celebrate exiting its beta phase [8]? Part of the Google Music offering is simple integration with Google+ pages.  After watching the awesome Hangout on The Muppets’ Google+ page, I’m feeling nostalgic and ready to spend some money downloading all the versions of “Rainbow Connection.”  But I don’t want to Scooter around looking for music! I’ll just have to go somewhere that will certainly have all these songs on offer – iTunes.  If Google is going after Apple’s music offerings, it’s not a good sign if Google Music hasn’t integrated with one of the FIRST Google+ brand pages.  And now that I’ve had to take an extra step in the conversion funnel, I’m feeling a little angry like Animal. -1 Google+.

I’d had enough of the Google+ page at this point, so I navigated to The Muppets Official Site [9] to see how they were able to integrate Google+ into their site:


See anything missing?

I wondered if the other brands who created the first Google+ pages have added buttons to their sites.  There are multiple ways to add a Google+ button to the smorgasbord of social media buttons on your website, including the new Google+ badges [11] that have been available since Nov 9.  Google provides you with the code snippet to allow your visitors navigate to your Google+ profile. It’s so easy that even Nanny can add the badge herself.

I checked the official websites of the other first brands to create Google+ business pages [2], including All American Rejects, Anderson Cooper 360, Angry Birds, FC Barcelona, Burberry, Dallas Cowboys, Good Morning America, H&M, Macy’s, Modelland, Pepsi, Phoenix Suns, Save the Children, Special Report with Bret Baier, Toyota, Train, WWE, Zen Bikes, X Games.

Of these brands that span a variety of industries – who had +1 buttons on their official sites? Angry Birds, Dallas Cowboys, WWE, Phoenix Suns.  Google+ is shooting only 20% amongst their partners.

Rizzo the Rat [12] would say:  “-1 Google+.”

It’s not looking good for Google+ if they’re not riding out the momentum that usually comes out with new releases. This scientist is not terribly impressed by the low mainstream adoption rates and Google’s own partners being so reluctant to take advantage Google+.

OK – enough börk, börk, börk here.  Here’s my conclusion in terms anyone of any age will understand – Facebook is Kermit while Google+ is Miss Piggy. Kermit is the face of the Muppets, the memorable and loved character that people tattoo on their bodies.  While Miss Piggy is very recognizable primary character, her whole identity is built on chasing Kermit.  While I feel pretty confident that Miss Piggy will never, ever, catch Kermit it is clear that she is not going anywhere.

Corollary: I’m no longer terrified of Google+.