Toward the end of 2012 Google came out with a community feature on their Google+ tool. And it sparked a lot of interest. We’re not sure about you but for a while we got many invitations to join new Google+ communities. With the holiday break that enthusiasm seemed to wane a bit but we’re still interested in how people are using Google+ for community building, not just the new feature but the tool in general. So we asked Maddie Grant who recently spoke at the ASAE conference on Google + where her presentation was well reviewed. Here are her thoughts, and further down, her slides:
There are many social media tools to use – why Google+
The choice of what social media site to use should always ultimately be determined by where your audience is. For that, Google+ may not be the right place for you. But Google+ has Google at its heart – obviously, but we forget that – so it’s incredibly easy to search for particular topics and see if people are there discussing them.
What do you see as the advantages to community managers for using G+ and how does the new communities option add to that?
We’re actually exploring the functionality as we speak. But I see huge potential for Google Hangouts to be a way for community managers to welcome newcomers, to provide tutorials, to facilitate live chats, and all kinds of other useful ways to keep people coming back to the community. The new Communities are taking off like wildfire, which to me means very simply that they are user-friendly and engaging in ways that many other groups are not. It might just be shiny new toy syndrome for right now, but I don’t believe that’s the case – I see people engaging in communities that got tired of all the other discussion groups out there (LinkedIn, Facebook, listserves, etc) long ago.
How is G+ communities different from LinkedIn Groups?
G+ communities are designed to connect people to the topics they are interested in – a little bit like Twitter. They are not necessarily about connecting people to other people already know (friends) like Facebook, or about connecting people around an organization (like LinkedIn). There are some similarities – let’s say association execs on LI versus association execs on G+ – where the functionality is the same, eg people post links to relevant articles of interest to the group; but LinkedIn seems to really have come into its own around recruitment and professional development, so the jobs tabs and company profiles and all of that functionality gives it a much different look and feel than G+. It does remain to be seen how G+ will continue to differentiate itself, of course. But here’s one example – we’re planning to run an 8 week live and asynchronous training course inside G+, with live chats on specific topics, small group hangouts, and asynchronous discussion – and we never would have even considered doing the same in LinkedIn. It’s just not as good for “real-time” collaboration – which is why it’s better to compare it to Twitter (and Twitter chats, specifically).
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