Should Your Nonprofit Join Google+?

This post was written by Corinne Minard, the Marketing & Internet Specialist for the Alliance for Nevada Nonprofits. She can be reached here.

If you spend as much time on the Internet as I do, you probably heard the same news I did: Google+ brand pages were finally launched this week. You might remember that Google introduced Google+ a little while ago, but there has been little talk of it since Facebook rolled out its changes. With the introduction of brand pages, though, I think that nonprofits might want to take a second look at it.

I’ll be honest: I remain wary of this new form of social media. Reviews of these new pages have been mixed as well. Beth Kanter has a great sum up of other nonprofits’ reactions.

I can’t get over my main problem: What will I get out of Google+ brand pages that I don’t get out of Facebook fan pages? With Twitter and LinkedIn, I’m reaching a different audience in ways dissimilar from Facebook. With Facebook allowing people to subscribe and creating groups for people to organize their friends and fan pages, what unique feature is Google+ offering me?

Other problems I see:

  • Currently, a brand page can have only one administrator. If it remains this way, it will create huge problems for nonprofits as well as for for-profits. What if someone leaves? What if the company wants someone else to run the page? Facebook allows administrators to be added and removed for just this very reason. I cannot fathom why Google+ released the brand pages without fixing this.
  • I’m not 100 percent sure this is true for everyone, but when I am operating as the ANN brand fan page, I cannot comment on posts when I’m on another brand page. I can comment as ANN when the comment is in my “stream,” though. Talk about confusing. This means that if you add a brand to one of your circles, you will need to navigate back to your stream to comment to a post.
  • There are currently no “vanity URLs.” Want to give out the URL to someone? Better use a URL shortener unless you love giving out long, complex URLs.

As many issues as I have with Google+, it does have some features I think it needs to focus on to make it the indispensible form of social media it wants to be:

  • If an individual follows your brand, you can (as your brand), add them to a circle and follow them. As a Facebook fan page, you can only like other fan pages. This Google+ feature will allow you to comment on and share individuals’ posts. This would allow an organization to share its ED’s posts with all of its followers. If an individual asked a question on his or her profile, the organization could comment on it and answer it. This greatly lessens the one-way communication that Facebook usually has.
  • I’m also excited about the idea of Google+ “Hangouts.” If you create a hangout, you can invite up to 9 people to video chat with you. Even with the current chat being limited to 10, my mind is a twitter with the possibilities. You could host online board meetings (depending on the size of your board). You could invite major donors for small gatherings. You could invite important members and supporters for a more intimate meeting. While Facebook has video chat now, it does not allow you do so as a fan page.
  • If Direct Connect is ever rolled out for all brand pages, I see this as a rather nice feature as well. Instead of searching and looking through multiple listings, users will be able to find your brand page just by putting a “+” in front of your name. Personally, I just like how easy and simple this concept is.

Google+ is still incredibly new, so what I like and dislike are likely to change. I think Google+ is worth some thought, but be aware that is still growing and adapting. If you are interested, Heather Mansfield at Nonprofit Tech 2.0 has instructions for setting up your page and some best practices. Juan Gonzalez offers some tips as well.

Are you going to use Google+? Why or why not? If you are, please follow us so we can navigate this new social media form together.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Kelis February 14, 2012 at 8:42 am

That\’s a posting full of iinsght!

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