Last week, in my #comm3309 Social Media for PR course at @stedwardsu, Google+ guru Thomas Heatherly gave my colleagues and I a crash course in how to use Google+.
“How many of you have a Google+ account?”
[12 hands raised]
“How many of you actively use it?”
[12 hand down]
He stated how that seemed to be the norm every time he asked that question. He made it very clear that Google+ is not trying to compete with Facebook or Twitter because its audience is geared toward a different audience.
And its true. I go on Facebook when I am bored or want to see what other people are doing throughout the day. Basically I go to barely engage in conversation, which Thomas referred to as a shallow conversation. Twitter is a different beast entirely, but isn’t necessarily utilized as a tool for dialogue creation. Google+ is designed for interaction. It was crafted to create a “unifying experience” for users.
How is this accomplished? By the creation of what Google calls a Hangout. Hangouts are basically life video chats that can used by up to 10 web cams at a time. The number of people cannot be exact, however, because of multiple screen users. So, you and your business colleagues can have business meetings, share documents on google docs, collaborate together to finish them, and even update your google calendars together. Pretty amazing right? AND, no computers needed. All you need is a smart phone and some damn good wifi and you are set to join a hangout.
It doesn’t stop there. The hangouts on air option allows for you to index and archive your videos on your company’s personal youtube channel. So, the conversation can be ongoing, and even revisited in the future.
Plus, you can create circles, similar to the close friends or acquaintance feature on Facebook. Circles are categorized and created BY YOU, allowing you and your company to be the master of who you connect with. Also, you can create and disseminate information specifically to certain circles of your network. Why would you want to do that? Well, let’s say you are working on a flyer for your company’s upcoming event. You upload it to google docs and share it with your circle titled: marketing. That way it goes directly to your marketing team before any others.
With Google+, company websites won’t necessarily be needed. However, it adds to a wider scope and can increase your search engine optimization. It is also important to personalize your company’s google+ page to give yourself an identity. You can even track your popularity with the +1 feature.
I understood google+ as a place to gather resources. By this I mean it is a social networking site geared towards connecting professionals with other professionals. I would definitely say it values higher education and strives to fuel deeper and better educated conversations.
My #comm3309 group plans to use the google+ hangout feature instead of meeting in person for creating our workshop. It would be even cooler if we could conduct our workshop as a hangout and invite other PR professional from around the world to engage in the discussion.