Libraries & Google+: Yet Another Platform to Reach Users

Courtesy of venturebeat.com

So if you represented a nonprofit organization that provided services to individuals and were looking to grow your organization’s sphere of influence, increase user interaction and engagement, and at the same time gather demographic information about your users by using a new tool, would you present it to your boss/supervisor/managers?  What if it didn’t cost you anything to implement, besides time to plan and maintain your organizational message?  What if you knew you could recruit others in your organization to help you with the workload, as mentioned, whereby the additional work would be negligible?  You would do it right??!!!  OF COURSE YOU WOULD!

This is exactly what is happening with libraries throughout the United States.  A great number of libraries are creating organizational accounts on Google+, since Google only recently made its social networking platform available for this.  David Rapp of the Digital Shift blog describes the use of this new service for libraries in his post Libraries on Google+.  Accordingly, since the inception of Google+ in June of 2010, over six months ago, there are now 40 million individual using it, and libraries are now signing up in the same fashion and at a comparable rate to create their own organizational accounts.

(… why this is important)

If you are already familiar with Google+, then look at how differently it is organized and presented to users and organizations compared to Facebook.  For those of you not familiar with the service, Google+ offers many similar features to Facebook, some that I would consider standard to social networking platforms, such as functions for connecting to others and a ‘news’ feed of posts from the individuals with an individual’s network.

Unique aspects and features offered by Google+ are its presentation of ‘friends’ through the use of what it calls ‘circles,’ where individuals within a network can be subcategorized by the user or organization.  While this feature is a novel idea and is a fresh look at keeping one’s network organized, it also allows organizations to gather user information with greater ease for marketing purposes by facilitating the segmentation of the organization’s customers.  Another aspect of Google+ I find superior to Facebook is the ability of individuals and organizations to add others to their network without getting their approval.  Users can add others without their approval in the same way my fellow Tweeters can ‘follow’ other Twitter users.  The news feed from those added show up in your or an organization’s ‘stream.’  It goes without saying organizations will not want to add individuals to their feed unless they have already been added by the user, creeping and lurking by libraries is not considered equitable netiquette by this blogger.

Like other social networking platforms, Google+ offers libraries another access point to its users, but it also possesses inherent advantages over its predecessors that have the possibility of giving libraries a step up on their competition (obviously, these are different for each library).  With so many different avenues for library users to gain access to information and other information services, libraries need to use every tool available to them.

Check out the Director of Libraries Pages on Google+.

Other posts on this topic:

Setting up a Google Plus Page for your Library is Easy, By David Lee King

Google Plus Pages for Libraries, By Joe Murphy

What do you think, should libraries add this tool to their pantheon of outreach services?

What are your thoughts?

As always, thanks for reading.

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