Conversations happen all the time and everywhere in social media.  Not all of these conversations have any value to most businesses, but if you can pinpoint the type of people you have your conversation with and ask them for relevant advice, the business value of the conversation can increase exponentially.  Participating in conversations is one way to develop business on LinkedIn.  There are also sites like Quora, Focus, or even public forums such as LinkedIn Answers and Facebook Questions where professionals (and others) are looking for the answers to their problems.  In fact just do a Twitter advanced search query for questions and you’ll see that there are people looking for answers to their problems everywhere.

While the conversation that I am going to share below could have happened on any social media website, the stickiness, immediate responsiveness, integration with Gmail, and limitless character count at which you can input your thoughts makes Google Plus a great place to have deep and serious conversations.  Assuming you’ve created a Google Plus circle of, what I would call in my first LinkedIn book your “Trusted Network of Advisors,” you can now filter out who gets your message and only target those business people and colleagues that you trust to give you a solid answer.

Nowto  the story of how one business used Google Plus to fight their competition.  The below conversation took place in the course of 24 hours.  No names are given to protect their privacy.


Trademarks used in metatags: I noticed a competitor listing our company name (registered trademark) in their blog post metatags. Any thoughts on Intellectual Property precedence to discourage this/force them to take down?

Several comments follow, and then 11 minutes later these two comments:

Here’s an article that addresses the issue:


My following comment was 90 minutes after the original question:

On legal issues, always best to talk to a trademark lawyer, especially if there is no precedence. They can always send a cease and desist letter on your behalf which may make them twice about doing that.

Followed by another comment 4 hours later:

I agree with Neal. The first time I ran into this was back in 1997 – the law at the time was weak, but precedence has grown since then.

My unofficial, “I’m-not-a-lawyer-nor-do-I-play-one-on-TV” opinion is that the cease-and-desist is certainly in order – use of a competitor’s mark in meta tags might create a “likelihood of confusion” sufficient to support a trademark infringement claim under the Lanham Act. Reference cases:

Deltek, Inc., v. Iuvo Systems, Inc.

Brookfield Communications Inc. v. West Coast Entertainment Corp.

22 hours after the original comment was posted the following message was received by all of the participants:

I found that case too! We cited this case and others and sent email to competitor citing confusion in marketplace and how it could result in legal action trademark infringement… it worked. All metatags were removed and no lawyer fees paid. Cool. Thx all.

While the conversation could have happened on any social media platform, no doubt that the functionality of Google Plus made it a perfect place to consult and receive advice in a private conversation in an efficient manner.  As the subject of this post commented after the fact,

I was equally intrigued by the value of Google Plus in this situation – I posted comments in ecommerce groups in LinkedIn, also asked question on my profile in LinkedIn but no responses – in Google Plus I got immediate relevant feedback from my Marketing Professionals and Social Media VIP circles.

Businesses invest dollars in social media monitoring software to see when their brand names or companies are mentioned for a wide range of objectives including, reputation management, customer support, and even finding business development opportunities.  Perhaps a similar investment in educating your employees to use the same communication tools that social media provides to consult with their own trusted networks could help your business in more ways than you can think – including finding ways to fight back at your competition while saving you money.

Have you had similar experiences with Google Plus or other social media platforms where a question you asked or answered had tangible business benefits?  Please share your experiences with us!