This is the first in a series of blog posts about the tools offered by Google for nonprofits.
Google isn’t just the search engine giant most people know it to be, it’s also a facilitator of nonprofit fundraising and promotion through its Google for Nonprofits program. Its free, simple-to-use tools are easy to implement into your nonprofit’s fundraising, outreach and advocacy efforts.
In this post, I’ll be talking about Google+, Google’s social networking tool that allows organizations (as well as individuals and businesses) to connect with constituents in a unique way.
For explanation’s sake, I’ll compare it to Facebook, since most people are familiar with it. When an organization posts to their Facebook page, the post is broadcast to everyone who has “liked” the page, which can be problematic for many organizations that have different groups of constituents (i.e., volunteers, donors, members, advocates, etc.); there are times when you want to reach out to each group individually.
A main differentiating feature of Google+ is Circles, which allows organizations to segment their followers into groups for easier, more targeted and more effective communication.
Another advantage to having a Google+ profile is search engine rankings—Google ranks Google+ pages high in their search results, so just having a profile is likely to bring visitors to your page if they’re searching for your organization.
Google+ also features Hangouts—live video chats that your followers can join in on. Organizations can use Hangouts to hold discussions about the issues important to you and your audience, and use it as a platform to educate newcomers who may not be as familiar with your work.
To gain followers, you have to let people know you’re on Google+. To do this, you can integrate a +1 button on your website so people with a Google+ profile can share your website with their followers. Also, just as you would say “Follow us on Facebook” or include a Facebook button in a newsletter or mailing, you should add a “Follow us on Google+” message to get the word out there.
Most people today have a Google account, whether they use Gmail, YouTube, Blogger or another Google product, so if you’re on Google+, you may just be able to reach a large part of the population that didn’t know about your organization or hadn’t thought to join before!
Find more information about setting up a Google+ page for your nonprofit here.