It hasn't permeated our daily lives to the extent of Facebook and Twitter...yet. But Google+ continues to grow, and its users are becoming increasingly active.
Designed to turn all our online activity into a social experience, Google+ combines many of the real-time functions of Twitter/hashtags with the visual components of Facebook. However, unlike its competitors, Google+ is far more successful at integrating into all areas of our digital routine.
Here's a brief overview of Google+ and its benefits for nonprofits:
What is Google Plus?
Google Plus (primarily written as Google+ ) is a social network which integrates with your existing Google accounts. Since its start in 2011, it has gradually grown and overtaken Twitter to become the second-largest social network in the world with more than 500 million users (235 million active users).
In many ways, Google+ is a lot like Facebook, with a rolling newsfeed, 'shares' and status updates. However, the way Google+ integrates with other Google accounts - Google search, Gmail, YouTube, etc. - makes it unique. Google describes Google+ as a 'social layer' that personalizes all aspects of a user's online experience.
Does Google Plus work for nonprofits?
Certainly! Google+ is a fantastic way for nonprofits to connect with their audience and raise awareness of their cause. Here are a few ways you can use Google+:
- Live-cast Real-Time Video Conversations with Google+ Hangouts
- Search For Like-Minded Communities
- Discover What's Trending by Perusing 'What's Hot'
- Create 'Circles' to Follow and Target Niche Audiences
- Visualize Your Cause by Creating a Map with Google Earth Outreach
For more information, check out this 'hangout' with tips for nonprofits on Google+
Why should I create a Google Plus account for my nonprofit?
Just like any other social network, Google+ helps brands and nonprofits build and strengthen their relationships. Google+, however, has an additional benefit because of its integration with Google search.
Users that are signed into a Google account, who then search for something on Google's search engine, receive personalized search results based on their Google+ profile. If you share links and images via your Google+ account, those images and links may be more likely to show up in the search results of those who follow you.
Being active on Google+ can also have great benefits for your nonprofit SEO strategy. In recent years Google re-worked its search algorithm to place a greater emphasis on social engagement. If your website is shared and 'Liked' a lot, Google picks up on those social signals and raises your website's rankings for relevant search terms. More than ever before, Google +1s (the equivalent of a Facebook 'Like') have a major influence on search rankings. If your website pages or blog posts get a lot of +1s, they're more likely to rank higher.
What are some examples of nonprofits on Google Plus?
Since 2006 this New York City nonprofit has been devoted to bringing clean, safe water to people of developing nations. On Google+, Charity: Water participates in hangouts, uses hashtags to get involved in trending conversations and shares inspiring videos of the many individuals who benefit from its work.
National Parks Conservation AssociationThe NPCA is dedicated to keeping America's national parks brilliant and beautiful for generations to come. The nonprofit uses Google+ to host 'hangouts', share photos, update followers on projects and encourage them to get involved. Recently they asked their followers to contact local representatives to make sure those local reps support the Parks.
Light the Night Walk - Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
One of the main ways the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society raises awareness and money for its cause is by hosting 'Light the Night' walks around the country. The events are so popular and successful that the nonprofit has given 'Light the Night' its own website and social media presence. Light the Night has a strong Goolge+ page, regularly updating it with great social content. Recently they posted about their partnership with Lulu Luxuries - a great example of the benefits of partnerships.
Are you on Google+? Do you find it useful? Let me know your ideas for how nonprofits can benefit from such a comprehensive social network.