G+ Tips BloG+: Google Plus for Social Good - The First Test - Successes and Shortcomings (?) (warning: long read)
35 hours ago I started "London Riots Help" - it is a Google Plus profile dedicated to collecting and disseminating information on the UK/London Riots - and then, of course, sharing that information publicly so that people would have an easy to find and all-encompassing resource. It has since become +Ryan Crowe
- I call it my Union Jack profile - I had to change the name because it would have been a shame if Google's robot-brand-name-profile killer to have shut down a resource meant for helping people who could be in dire trouble. Also, I knew that there were going to be a few trolls who would report the profile for being fake.Here are my thoughts on the failures and successes of this endeavor so far:Successes
1.) There are people who want to help
. This of course is always the big success - I made "London Riots Help" profile and people immediately started adding it after I made an announcement here.Quickly, I started receiving and trying to reshare the information that was flooding my "Incoming" stream.
2.) The tips that I share? They work!
- this is not some sort of pat on the back thing here, I share so many tips that I often don't get to try all of them out - I rely on reading reviews of the tips that I reshare sometimes. So, I went through my back log and looked for the tips that helped me gather information and reshare that information the quickest. I used gplussearch to search through G+ posts dealing with the riots. I used www.recommendedusers.com
to find journalists of whom I had been previously unaware with G+ profiles. I shared +Guy Kawasaki
's alltop and encouraged him to create a London riots G+ list and then to publish it (he didn't, he's busy). The etiquette of thanking people that had lead me to information quickly allowed people to discover other avenues of information - and a network of people reporting and talking about the riots manifested and were documented. Google+, even in its Beta stage - is a great platform for gathering and sharing information quickly... and is more in-depth than Twitter, and is more public than Facebook because the information has the capability to get into your Streams more easily.
3.) Telling stories through different forms of media is king - and Google+ allows that to happen
- it is incredibly easy to share photos, and video - and often times that affects people more than a story does. "An old building was burned to the ground in West Manchester" is perhaps less impressive than a video of that building burning to the ground. That visual connection aids in understanding the seriousness of the event.
4.) Google+ works well in tandem with other social networks
- it would have been/is currently unwise and perhaps socially irresponsible to try and keep all of my efforts dedicated to G+ and ignoring the efforts on other platforms. Through G+ I am able to orchestrate a cross-platform campaign to try to and enhance the reach of the message. Not MY message, this isn't a personal branding campaign - but to extend the reach of advice that may significantly help someone in their situation. For example, in my Union Jack profile page are links to the Twitters of different police departments, Facebooks of different clean-up groups and news organizations that have live feeds and updates.Shortcomings
1.) There aren't a lot of people following the account
- ~450 users -this is probably... for a couple of reasons that I can discern - and each of these reasons tie in to the rest of the "shortcomings" on my list.
1a.) It doesn't seem like there are a lot of UK users
- I have been unable to come up with a demographics report of G+ users by country, but I'm not seeing a lot of UK users interacting with the account at all; now... that could be my fault. My outreach abilities haven't been turning out well when it comes to high profile users who don't seem interested in helping (a problem on its own). This problem seems to be temporary - as G+ continues to grow - this sort of issue probably won't be
an issue anymore.
1b.) Response to outreach has been anemic
- high profile G+ user accounts don't care or aren't listening... and they don't have to - it's not fair for me to expect them to rally around a cause that doesn't affect them - or at least that can't see how it affects them directly. However, even if they don't care about the people in the UK dealing with this issue, I expected them at least to care about the way G+ is being tested as a resource for people in need. People whose entire "fame" is directly related to their online/social media presence - ignoring an important test for this new platform? Which leads to...
1c.) It has only been 35 hours since the account started.
- This is probably the most important. This is a perfect example of broadband syndrome. I thought it would blow up and reach as many people that needed to be reached. When I started GPlusTips - the amount of Followers gained in such a short amount of time was incredibly surprising - and perhaps the success there set that bar too high for my personal expectations. Perhaps the amount of users should be in the "success" portion?
2.) "Are we doing it wrong?"
- . The reason this hasn't seen the support that I thought it would have is maybe because... as a community, we're not really sure how to use G+ to respond to crises yet. We don't have an example to follow.
3.) Google+ doesn't allow groups to act under a name
- well it could. Before I was convinced to turn "London Riots Help" into my Union Jack account - I was ready to take people who were interested in the cause - give them the username/pw and have them take over when I had to sleep, eat, have a life or do work. Because the news/actions are constantly going and won't stop for me to do any of those things - I turned the account into my name, but perhaps I should change it to something else so that people can act together. Why? It's hard for a single user to keep up with all of the action!
(it has currently taken me about 2 hours to write this post because I keep checking to see if I've missed anything.) But will people be willing to do work if they aren't being recognized for it... I hope so.
4.) Google+ makes it hard to target specific users, natively
- I wish I could send these messages to folks in the UK - it would be nice if there was some sort of location-based circle... function that didn't exist solely on the mobile platform. There are outside resources to use - those various find G+ users sites - but even then you have to rely on people to have found those as well. Even socialstatistics.com
has under 50k profiles being watched and I feel like that's one of the more popular sites.
5.) There is no native search, #, page or event feature that people can find easily
- on Twitter you can look for hashtag events (#londonriots ... has been trending) and on Facebook you can create events/pages or groups for people to find. Go type "London Riot" in the FB search bar and you can find pages set up for Updates, Clean-Ups, Photos, Videos and news. You can't do that on G+ yet
- and it would have been extremely helpful. Instead you have to rely on people to find each other and create a sort of flimsy network of inter-connected/linking posts that you have to wait for the enterprising user to compile. Someone has to collect all that information, organize it and post it and HOPE it gets re-shared so that other people can use it. Another thing about these posts - if the user is somewhat new and doesn't quite know how to bookmark posts yet... that post is going to get lost. In a crisis event... user-friendly mechanisms are KEY - especially
if they are using it on their mobile where the features aren't as easy to manipulate.
6.) Organizing information is difficult
- Again, you have to rely on the enterprising user to organize all of the information and be there to constantly update a post in order for things to be as helpful as possible. Unlike a Facebook page, or a series of hashtags that can be searched - all of the information is spread out among different users' posts... even if all of it is collected into one - you still have to rely on being able to find that user's post later on IF you know that post exists in the first place (again, very hard to search if you don't know how specifically). Using the empty circle bookmark feature or even bookmarking the permalink is one way to solve part of that problem... but even then... what about the users who aren't familiar with those tactics?
That's what I've got so far. It's only been 35 hours. Do you all have any tips or want to help? Did I get something wrong in my analysis?