I went to a radical grassroots organizing conference & lived to tell the tale (Part II: Google+)

Day 1: Sessions at #roots12google_plus_logo

Session 1: Google+ & YouTube for Organizing
Session 2: Don’t Touch the Pink Controller!: Telling Our Gender Stories for Social Change
Session 3: Want to be a new media director?: How to set up a New Media Program
Session 4: Art of the SCHMOOZE
Session 5: Infographics are FUN! -Not Scary

Before Andy Roos+, our google presenter, begun his presentation I went right up to him and told him how much I was looking forward to being reenergized to use google+.

Similar to many people I know, I’ve had my interest piqued when I heard of google’s foray into the social networking arena, but hadn’t yet taken the time to really look into its use.  As we know, if your friends aren’t using it, neither are you.  Yet when attending Boston PodCamp6 this fall I was able to attend a session lead by Chris Brogan (@chrisbrogan/ChrisBrogan+), one of the leading authors writing about Google+ and it’s benefits.  Chris’ enthusiasm for the medium was incredibly contagious.  He told us we should all be using Google+ because:

  1. It instantly made anything we were sharing searchable (especially important for businesses)
  2. It allowed us to share information with groups of people who the item was most relevant (i.e. random childhood memories only share with your family ‘circle’)
  3. It allows for the friend-friend recommendations we all can appreciate.  If you do a google search, you will immediately see better/more relevant results if your friends are +1-ing content.
  4. It integrates with all of google’s other tools.  If you already live part of your life on google, you will find it even easier to utilize all of the other tools, such as video ‘hang outs’ with people in your Google+ circles.

Chris talked about the need for everyone to be on Google+ so emphatically that I was CONVINCED to needed to go home and get on board (read more about Chris’ view at his blog).   However, as with many things we learn at conferences, I put it on the back burner and hadn’t spent the time I had wanted to get familiar with the platform.  Enter Andy Roos.

I told Andy that I had listened to Chris Brogan’s presentation, loved Google’s products as a whole, present on using Google in the workplace at least a couple times a year, and in general couldn’t wait to hear about how using google products can further help with my work.  I think I might have overwhelmed him a bit with my excitement.

Andy shared some pearls of wisdom, which I think can be relevant to the work we do as Student Affairs Professionals:

  • Video content is king (or queen)
    Videos are hot on YouTube, hot on Facebook, and in general one of the most popular forms of communication on the web.  They need to be short and fun to get lots of views, but clearly people find this format for receiving information (or just wasting time) enjoyable.  Consider a video about activities happening in your area for the week like Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS) has done.  Have your students shoot video interviewing other students, or taking tours of their favorite places on campus.  If you have a blog for your department, you might as well take advantage of the interactive format and post videos, both of your own students, or to content you think they would enjoy.  Video content drives people to your blog.
  • You can integrate Google+ into your work in a meaningful way; especially through Google hangouts
    An example Andy shared was how newscaster Sarah Hill uses Google+ hangouts live in her newscasts.  She invites average citizens to be involved in conversations on the air through the medium, and now has over 620,000 followers because of the revolutionary way that she is engaging with her audience.  How can we engage with our students using this medium?  How Could we use it to connect with Student Leaders over the summer?  How can we use it to be more efficient (and more personal) in our professional organization work?  We’d be crazy to not look into using this helpful new technology.  Read more about Sarah Hill’s “social genius”
  • Clear and simple visuals are VERY important to getting points across. 
    Whether it is on your webpage, your presentations, or your Office’s Google+ page, inforgraphics and pictures matter.  Andy offered Obama’s Google+ page as an example of a good way to feed information to followers in a more interesting way.
  • In 180 days, Google has made 212 product improvements on Google+
    We all know that Google is constantly rolling out products and improvements.  While it might feel uncomfortable to be ‘ahead of the curve’ when it comes to a new product, imagine how wonderful it will feel when you are more familiar with it than everyone else because you started working with Google+ in it’s younger days.
  • YouTube is the 3rd largest site on the Internet
    Reinforcing the point that video content is BIG.  Whether or not your video turns ‘viral’ or becomes someone makes an ever-popular meme out of it, you are more likely to get your students to watch a video than read a long article.  Case in point – wouldn’t you rather me show you these tips in a video than read this blog?
  • Make people stay interested in your YouTube videos
    Andy offered an interesting tip I hadn’t heard before.  If you are worried about folks tuning out after the first minute you could try adding captions to the pictures in your video (like pop up video style).  It gets people to pay closer attention so they don’t miss something.
  • Google Video Tools for Nonprofits
    Andy said that not everyone knows about http://www.google.com/nonprofits/. Your institution, or organization can use these tools to make branded pages, avoid ads, and have access to many more tools.
  • Get Interactive with Google Moderator
    Andy also suggested checking out Google Moderator (http://www.google.com/moderator/).  With this YouTube tool you can crowdsource comments or questions.  The way it works is that someone gets to suggest a question and then the rest of the audience can “vote up” the question in the queue if they like it.  Imagine setting up a video message (or Google Hangout) with your Dean of Students and let the parents or students bring up questions and vote for which questions for her to answer.  Check out this VIDEO about how to use Google+ live video conferencing.
  • You are more likely to remember an ad on YouTube than an ad on TV
    YouTube is a “lean in media.”  This might be less relevant for student affairs professionals if you aren’t making ads, but I find the point very interesting.  When a commercial is on TV you are more likely to walk away, go to the bathroom, get snacks, etc.  However, no one clicks on an ad via the web and walks away.  If someone is looking at your ad they are literally “leaning in” toward the computer and much more engaged with receiving the information.  While we might not be making traditional ads ourselves, we certainly could be using videos to inform our students of things we want them to know (such as closing information, bed bunking, programming on campus, leadership position openings).  No matter who you are, you want your audience to “lean in” to your message.

Forty five minutes of Google has reminded me just how much I love Google’s products as a whole.  I’m excited to re-embrace this technology and see how many places I can use it in my work. How are you using google+ or YouTube in you work?  Post below!


One response to this post.

  1. Mate! This website is cool! How did you make it look like this !


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