So Google+ Pages went live this past week. Someone in your parish office or a parishioner might even suggested that your parish
set one up. Then the thought comes to your mind, “Well, we have that Facebook page they told us we should get; why do we need another one somewhere else?” Good question, and you shouldn’t drop the Facebook Page. Here’s some reasons how they are different and the benefit to your community.
- Not everyone is on Facebook. Granted there are about 150 million Facebook users and probably a good portion of your parishioners do have accounts, but Facebook is a stand-alone social networking service. Google+ is different in that it’s tied to Google Accounts and Gmail Accounts which is one of top email providers around. So it’s kind of like grits here in the south. Nobody asks for them. You just get them. Gmail users just get a Google+ account (they have to activate it, but it’s there). So now your expanding your ability to connect with your community.
- Google+ allows you to organize your page “followers” into Circles which opens new possibilities for communication. Not only are you able to communicate with all of your followers, you can break them up into circles for say ministries, staff, clergy, etc. providing you with a new means to target communications all from one spot. This way, “followers” are now getting what is targeted to them. For example, not everyone needs to know that your liturgical ministry calendars are updated for the holiday season right? Those participating in the liturgical ministries do. So you can share that bit of information just to their Circle.
- “Hangouts” provide another way to meet. What are some things that can be barriers to meeting for parishes? Scheduling conflicts, room availability, making copies of materials, weather, etc. Hangouts are group video meetings tied right in with the service. By choosing “Hangouts With Extras” you’re even able to share documents (from Google Docs) and screenshots during the meeting. So maybe you hold a “Hangout” meeting for all or a combination of in-person and online for those who couldn’t get there for whatever reason. Note: Hangouts all for up to 10 participants at one time.
- If you use Google Apps as a parish . . . you have Google+ tied in now. I’m a big advocate of Google Apps for parishes (and business too), but up until this past week these user accounts couldn’t access Google+. Now they can. So that Google Apps system just got even better for connecting your users. For example, you have your parish office on Google Apps. You now can place everyone on one unique sharing platform while also opening up them up to connections amongst other parishes and Dioceses without using a personal account. Likewise, you can use it like an “Intranet” or a supplement to and it’s tied in with all those other great services your staff is already using. There are notifications built into the Google bars at the top of each Google page (Search, Gmail, etc.). Hold a quick “Hangout” meeting, take advantage of the circle feature with “Staff” all in one. So forth and so on.
- No “wall” to manage. One area of Facebook Pages that can be a “catch-22″ is the concept of the “wall”. The question becomes “Should we let others post to our wall or not?” Most won’t because you obviously open yourself up to possible objectionable or harmful posts. Google+ Pages do not have “walls” and it’s all about “sharing” rather than “posting”. Followers can not post anything to your page which means what will show up on your page is only what you have shared out. You may come across something you think is important in which case you can share that out to your circles and it will appear in your “posts” section of your page. People who “follow” (add to their circles) your page do not see what you post unless you post something as “public”. If you add them to a circle/circles, then they will see what you choose to share with that circle they are included in.