Google+ Scenario Planning for Customers and Brands

What: Google+ Scenario Planning for Customers and Brands
When: Thursday, August 18th, 10am PDT / 1pm EDT
Where: Via Google+ Hangout (
Who: Anyone interested in actively participating
How: Just show up at the URL noted above with your strategy cap on
Host: +Christopher Carfi, VP Social Business Strategy, Ant's Eye View
Cost: Your engaged participation*

(If you're interested in participating, please leave a comment at

Google+ is adding users at a remarkable rate. A recent estimate from Cnet pegged the Google+ population at over 25 million and growing at an estimated 1 million users a day. And where there are users, there will be brands that want to connect with them.

Some brands such as Mashable and Ford jumped on the service almost immediately, leading to a confusing period where Google asked brands not to participate yet, as it was "designed for people, not for brands." Google has now stated that they are working on offerings for brands, but neither an official launch date nor details of what these brand-friendly aspects of the service will be have been made public. (Some brands, such as +Ford Motor Company, now have "test accounts," however.)

This leaves both customers and brands in a quandary. Especially on the brand side, the reward for smart decision-making and first-mover advantage can be huge. But what to do? And when?

Strategic thinking in environments containing a high degree of uncertainty can be done; there are tools in the toolbox for exactly this type of situation. One particular tactic I've found useful when dealing with uncertainty of this sort is scenario planning. There are many different implementations of scenario planning; the one I use is a modified version of the one described here and originally pioneered by Peter Schwartz at GBN. Here's one that I did for the Vendor Relationship Management (VRM) space in 2006-07; it seems to be holding up pretty well:

On Thursday, August 18th, let's have a Google+ Hangout in order to do "Google+ Scenario Planning for Customers and Brands." 

So, I think the two big questions for this scenario are the following:

Q1: Will the tools that Google provides be more aligned with customers, or with brands?
Q2: Will Google be mainly trying to enable interactions with billion dollar brands or SMBs?

This gives us a landscape that looks like the framework below.


What we'll do during the conversation is attempt to paint a picture of what the world would look like if we pulled the scenario out to each of the corners of this model, and create a template that can help to guide our decision-making.

It's important to note that we are explicitly NOT trying to "predict the future" using this technique. Instead, what we are trying to do is understand the forces that are at work in this scenario, and create a set of guidelines that can aid in our decision making if and when we see any one, or more, of these scenarios coming to fruition.

I hope you'll join me in this experiment. See you on Thursday right here.

UPDATE 8/24/11: Thanks to everyone who participated in this conversation! Summary video of the session is now live here: Google+ for Customers and Brands: Scenario Planning Summary