Interacting in an open environment with Google+

Andrew Swart, Google CanadaGoogle has proven itself to be more than just a search engine.

With the launch of a new social service called Google+, journalists and organizations are now able to maximize the way they share and gather information.

At the INK+BEYOND newspaper conference, Google Canada’s Andrew Swartz presented delegates with tips and tricks to work more efficiently on the web during a session titled Google For Journalists +: Getting the Most from the Web and Google+.

Launched nine months ago, Swartz says Google+ is the fastest growing social network. With 90 million users, and about 60 percent of them engaging daily, Google+ is a social networking and identity service that provides a convenient and open environment for users to interact and share online content with one another through unique features such as Circles and Hangouts.

Circles enable users to organize people into groups for sharing across various Google products and services such as Google Alerts, Language Tools, Google News and Google Image Search. Hangouts on the other hand, are used to facilitate free group video chats with the maximum of ten people participating at a time. Chats can be shared and viewed by an unlimited number of people.

Add in the ability to integrate social services such as Google Profiles, a user account that provides access to Google-owned services such as Blogger, YouTube and Google Groups, Swartz says more and more news organizations are using Google+ to market their content because of its flexibility.

But upon joining the service, Swartz suggests that organizations should grow their audience by announcing their presence.

“When you join Google+ as an organization, let people know you’re there and start asking people to add you to their Circles. Find out what kind of information they’re interested in and develop Circles around those,” he said.

“Many organizations have launched their Google+ profiles with welcome videos. Others send announcements or share photos (while) many announce their presence through blogs, websites and other social networks.”

But in comparison to leading social networking sites such as Facebook, Swartz says Google+ is more than just a destination.

Providing an open and broad environment for users to connect with like-minded people, linking and spreading content is what drills the service to become the social network that it is.

“How you share matters,” said Swartz. ““What I’ve noticed from my experience in using Google+ is, it’s a little bit less about the people you know and more about the people you don’t know. It’s a great way to interact, connect and have discussion. It lends itself to having more wholesome conversations instead of just posting what you ate for dinner. (It) opens up more of a possibility for dialogue.”