Google+ Basics and Benefits For Churches
Google+, Google’s social network, is growing by about 12 million active users per month according to MarketingLand.com. If your congregation isn’t already logging onto this expanding site, here are some reasons you should consider using Google+:
Google+ circles streamline communication process
Circles, on Google+, are like Facebook lists. The big difference is that circles are central to Google+. You have to use them, which may sound pushy at first, but Google’s organized approach makes it easier to communicate. Circles enable users to organize people into groups for sharing across various Google products and services. The privacy settings also allow users to hide the users in their circles as well as the names of those who have them in their circle.
On Facebook, if you even know what a list is, you have to figure out how to use “list” features and then hand-select to which lists to add friends. It’s laborious and tedious.
Churches can easily create a Google+ page and start posting text, links, photos and videos. You can choose to make these posts public to all of your connections, or you can share them with different circles.
For example, you can group all of your marriage-ministry participants in one circle and your finance committee in another. Then send messages to just those groups.
Hang out with contacts wherever they are
Hangouts allow you to set up one-click video conversations with up to 10 other people. Do you want to bounce a new program idea off your youth ministry leaders before their next meeting? Set up a hangout so everyone can collaborate from wherever he or she is. You also can share YouTube videos or screen shares during a hangout.
Share relevant content via the +1 button
Similar to Facebook’s “Like” button, Google+’s +1 button shows your approval of Google search results, a friend’s Google+ post or a website. When you +1 something, it is added to the +1 tab of your Google+ profile, allowing your friends and contacts to see the things you recommend. This is useful because your church members can see everything from a book you recommend to the website of a reliable information-technology service. You can see what your congregants have liked through +1. This provides insight into their interests and helps you plan activities, events and sermons that coincide with these interests. You can also add the +1 button to your church’s website so people can +1 you!
Monitor your impact
Google+ comes with built-in analytical tools. Google+ Ripples, for example, provides an interactive graphic of public shares on your public Google+ posts. You can see who has publicly shared the post and the comments people have made. This can show you potential new congregants who are interested in your church or hot topics in which your members are interested. To access Ripples, click the dropdown arrow at the top of a post and click “View Ripples.”
You also can use Google+’s built-in search bar to type your church’s name, a church event or anything else about which you’re curious to see who’s discussing it and what they’re saying.
Google+ is constantly adding new features as it learns what its users want and need. Keep checking its new offerings to see new ways the site can help your church!