#SocialNetworks: Is Google+ Ready For Nonprofit Big Time? (Part 2)

Let us begin by respectfully noting the tenth anniversary of the attacks in New York City, on the Pentagon, and on the thwarted attack in Shanksville PA on September 11th. We hope those directly touched by the terrorists’ attacks have been able to find some modicum of peace over the decade. And we hope all Americans engage the next decade not with fear but with hope and honesty.

Google+ Project Page

Get invited!

Last week we discussed some of the responses nonprofits and other social-media experts to Google+, which has exploded out of the gate of the social-media-platform race, but which might only be the latest shiny object to catch our attention (however briefly).

The overwhelming trend among early adopters in these fields is (a) definitely adopt, or at least keep an eye on Google+, and (2) don’t invest in Google+ to the detriment of all the good work and great contacts you have developed via other social media.  Click on the following link for an informative exchange between Beth Kanter and Allison Fine of The Chronicle of Philanthropy that highlights the cautious optimism for the nonprofit world: Beth Kanter and Allison Fine discuss Google+.

What can Google+ offer that makes cautious adoption the recommended route? What can’t Google+ offer that makes cautious adoption the recommended route?

Thing is, expansion of Google+ has been nothing short of astonishing. In less than two months, Google+ got 25 million visitors. Facebook needed over 36 months to cross that threshold. Further breakdown of the statistics is provided by Brian Solis, who provides information about international use, men vs. women, and age groups (with adoption even among those older than 65).

Yet like any new tool, we are all working for ways to make it work for us. Unlike much of the history of technology, we can not really point to a necessity that Google+ solves for us. That said, refinements in ‘Circles’ and ‘Sparks’ and ‘Hangouts’ might mean a great balance of user-friendliness and manageable privacy (the eternal Yin-and-Yang of social media).

We came down rather more favorably on Google+ than many of our peers, because Google+ so easily allows one to control which circles of friends see what you want to share. Moreover, Google+ was built with video-linking in mind, whereas Facebook integrated Skype as an apparent afterthought.

But before you get the impression that everyone agrees that we should wait-and-see (always an unsatisfying conclusion), let us point out an insight by Danny Marx at Hostelling International USA, who posted a comment to a story earlier in August about Google+ on The Chronicle of Philanthropy. His take is that Google+ might prove to be a phenomenal internal tool, rather than a powerful outreach program:

Particularly quick ad-hoc video conferences to connect while collaborating on a google doc, or to push out an article, link, or conundrum to a small group of coworkers for internal conversation (similar to salesforce chatter).

I feel that this will eventually be the mainstay benefit and impetus to adoption by non profits and other orgs (many that are already using google apps). Marc Benioff of Salesforce does a great job explaining this as social enterprise and has worked to natively incorporate into his product. Google might be behind Salesforce, but the fact that they have already “perfected” many of the individual tools (ie gmail, youtube, blogger, docs, sites, search, +1) they are in a unique position to tie them all together without having to teach folks new skills or create new logins.

But the fact remains: the whole point of a social network is to build up peers and supporters and promoters. And you need to be on a system that provides sufficient numbers to leverage benefit from the effort to learn the nuances of a new system. As Google+ gains adherents (like Facebook, it will do so via the enthusiasts among the early adopters), we will find ever more productive and creative ways to use the platform. And few of us will have to learn new skills or create new logins to get into the behemoth that is Google.


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