I just read an article on Google+ over at Church Juice ( http://churchjuice.com/blog/google/ ) and it was very similar to my initial thoughts on Google+ and how it could benefit churches and ministries. I have been using Google+ since it came on the scene and I wanted to really get an idea of how it worked. Here is one of the best things I have noticed about Google+, the potential integration with other apps and services that Google offers, and Google+ was thinking mobile on day one. This long term vision will help Google+ last far into the future. Churches already have had to develop strategies to embrace twitter, Facebook, linkedin, youtube, vimeo and a variety of other social media websites. Google+ is yet another social media tool that churches will need to embrace. The question is, what are the benefits of Google+ and how can it be integrated into the church's social media strategy without adding to much work. First and foremost, I have come across some great "How to get started with Google+" guides and tutorials. Here are a few:
Here is a summary of my thoughts on Google+, the benefits of Google are listed below:
Business Profiles: business profiles are coming within the next few months and depending on the number of features they have for marketing and interacting, they could be just as beneficial as Facebook Pages. The benefit that Google+ has is that they can use Facebook Profiles as a model and build upon that a better project. Google+ is currently deleting profiles that appear to be used for business purposes therefore they either will have a PR nightmare or their business pages will be so great that they make people forget this profile deleting fiasco.
Circles. Basically this lets you organize the people you know into groups so you can communicate specifically with them. Friends, parents, co-workers and/or acquaintances can all go in different circles (Google official video: http://youtu.be/BeMZP-oyOII). Circles could be used by churches to organize different groups of people to minister to. If a ministry is setting up online small groups they can use circles to setup which people will be in which group. This niche marketing tool could help the church focus on who they want to market or minister to, whether it be all of their online members or a select few.
Hangouts. Group video chat anyone? If multiple friends are online, you can all get together face-to-face. You can even watch YouTube videos together (Google official video: http://youtu.be/Tku1vJeuzH4). This would take online ministry to another level by making ministry much more intimate and personal. Small groups can meet online via video chat and minister and fellowship with each other. If they decide not to use video chat then it would be considered a Huddle. This is group chat without the video. (Google official video: http://youtu.be/iA22daAstNg)
Sparks. We all have things we’re geeked out about. This lets you share your interests with friends (Google official video: http://youtu.be/MRkAdTflltc). The topics that can utilize sparks within a small church group can be numerous. This topic starter could be used to facilitate ministry discussions based upon a church topic.
Instant Upload. An easier way to automatically upload pictures from your cell phone to the web (Google official video: http://youtu.be/6y_xKVSRAy8). This is an easy way to share ministry events quickly right from your phone.