Or at least, not yet. Whether your church needs a Google+ account is something that remains to be seen, however there are some very good reasons why your church shouldn’t worry about Google+ just yet.
What is Google+
Google+ is Google’s latest attempt at social networking. Essentially, they want to turn every Google product into part of their social networking tool, Google+. That includes Picasa (images), YouTube (Video), GMail (E-mail) and Maps (Places).
As well as this, they are implementing a few new elements. Circles will allow you to choose what friend circles your contacts fall into. That way, updates about your uni mates will only go to your uni mates, but not your work mates. Hangouts will allow you to chat (even video chat) with anyone who’s available and wants to chat. The idea here is that if you’ve got nothing to do, you just say you’re going to hang out, and then people in that circle can come and hang out with you. Huddles will allow you to group message a bunch of people, and have them all receive the replies, so that organising events or nights out are much easier. Sparks sort the stuff that you like into categories, and help you find new things you might be interested in.
A lot of pundits are calling Google+ the biggest challenge to Facebook so far.
Is it better than Facebook?
Whether Google+ is better than Facebook is still to be determined. Part of what makes Facebook so great is its size – over 750 million members. Google+ is still effectively in closed beta – invites are being sent around, but they are of limited number. Google chooses to do this quite often – I remember hearing – and even being offered – the first GMail invites. What it does is allow Google to figure out how people are going to use their project before opening it to the world. They can also deal with bugs as they appear without disrupting too many people.
Only time will tell whether it will be a serious contender to Facebook. Until that time, churches would be best to focus their social media strategy on proven mediums.
Social Media Strategy
If you are going to head down the Social Media path, you should have a social media strategy. What are you going to achieve by having a presence on Facebook or twitter? What are you going to publish on these mediums? What are you going to use to know whether it is a success or not?
Having a social media strategy will help you answer these questions, and will help you shape what you post on the mediums.
Focus your time
The big issue with the proliferation of social media is that there are literally hundreds of social media platforms available. They all take time to learn how to use properly, and how to use effectively, and then take more time to use it effectively. One recommendation I have read is that in order to make effective use of any social media platform, you should be willing to devote at the bare minimum one hour per platform per week, and preferably one hour per platform per day.
Let’s say that you have the time to spend seven hours a week on social media. You can choose to spend that however you like, but by focussing on less platforms, you can really get the most out of that platform and achieve your goals through that.
So my recommendation to churches is if you are considering getting in on Google+, wait. Before spending any time working out how to use it, wait to see if it takes off or not. Wait to see if the people you want to be in contact with start to use it. Don’t just jump on something because it’s there. Jump on it because you know it works and will deliver the results that you are looking for.
- Google+ another bust? (micahdorfner.wordpress.com)
- Google+ 3 Strikes, You’re Out? (seovault.wordpress.com)
- First thoughts on Google Plus (gautamblogs.com)
- Google tries to expand its reach with social media Google takes… (shortformblog.tumblr.com)
- 5 Reasons Why I think Google+ Will Beat Facebook (myassgeek.wordpress.com)
- Your Google Plus FAQ (marketersstudio.com)