I have admitted many times that I am a late adopter. Or maybe a late understander.
But I'm also aware that when it comes to social media, we really do need to diversify, just like we do with our stocks. Two recent events have caused the hair to rise on my neck and ignited my efforts to get going with Google+.
First, Google has made it clear that it will use "social signals" going forward to help it decide what content rises or falls on its search pages. Since it owns Google+, it's not surprising that what we do on that network is coming to play a bigger role in what people see when they search any keyword that we might be writing for.
Second, Facebook has taken a beating since it went public recently. Before its debut as a public stock, it looked invincible. Huge, growing, expanding in all directions, targeting not only users but ad revenue. Then suddenly, as its stock has tanked, Facebook has started to look vulnerable, as though it could be another MySpace. I don't think that will happen, but it certainly reminded me that we don't own these social networks, and that none are guaranteed to be around any longer than a nanosecond in Internet time.
Thus...the need to diversify.
Just in Time - Just for Nonprofits
That's where Marc Pitman comes in. Marc has published the first book I've seen specifically about Google+ for nonprofits.
So Marc has dredged the channel through which we can all sail and has provided the map in his Google+ for Nonprofits: A Quick Start Guide to Unleashing the Power of Google+ to Promote and Fund Your Nonprofit (Que, 2012, 135 pages).
Here's some of what you'll learn from Marc:
- Why you and your nonprofit should be on Google+. Even if you are a reluctant social media adopter, this network is going to very important to your SEO.
- How to convince your boss to let you try out Google+.
- How to set up a profile for yourself...the best way to get your feet wet even if eventually you'll be setting up a page for your organization.
- How to find people and orgs to follow, how to create circles (groups), and how and what to share with them.
- How to control the stream of updates coming at you so you're not overwhelmed.
- How to set up your nonprofit on Google+.
- How some other nonprofits are using Google+ successfully.
Here's the plan of action Marc suggests once you're on Google+. These steps will get you up-to-speed. Take it from me, the only way to learn social media is to get in and splash around:
- Schedule 15 minutes a day for playing with Google+.
- Watch how other people are using it and notice which posts get the most interaction.
- Post an update of your own that shares a link to some interesting content such as an article or blog post (yours or that of someone else)
- Interact with five other posts by clicking the +1, leaving a comment, or by sharing it with your own circles.
- Find four new people to follow.
I really loved Google+ for Nonprofits. Marc is a seasoned fundraiser and a smart teacher. He writes just like he talks -- down to earth, sympathethic and knowledgeable about the everyday challenges facing people in nonprofit organizations, and kind to beginners. And he knows Google+ inside and out because he uses it daily.
I downloaded the book to my Kindle App on my iPad, set that by my computer, and then worked on my Google+ profile as I made my way through the book. I made a cool cover photo for my profile, polished my profile information, and tamed my Circles within a couple of hours. I don't have a business page on Google+, but I fully understood Marc's explanation of how to set one up. If you've set up a FB business page, you'll be pretty much at home with the Google+ set up.
One thing I haven't tried but that Marc is enthusiastic about is the video conferencing feature that is called Google+ Hangouts. Marc makes a great case for using that Skype-like feature to collaborate with peers, steward donors, and just enjoy meeting folks.
Since Marc is such an experienced fundraiser with a ton of teaching experience, while you're learning about Google+, you'll also pick up more than a few tips about how to do that well, from making the ask to thanking donors.
Frankly, Marc's enthusiasm for Google+ is contagious. Just listen to him:
"I think Google+ is the most exciting social media innovation. The biggest search engine in the world is giving nonprofits a powerful, free way to significantly impact search results. And it has a robust, quickly growing community of users. That means that Google+ has more far-reaching implications than any social media platform yet...."
After reading Marc's book, I'll bet that you'll try Google+ if you haven't already. And if you're already there, you'll learn ways to make it even more valuable.