Google+With Facebook and Twitter being the most talked about social networks and anything but tectonic shifts reaching headlines, it’s easy to overlook one of the more significant and tappable changes that have taken place online in the last year.

We all know that Google is well, huge. But we are not always so clear about what Google is really doing beyond providing us with Chrome, maps, glass, gmail and docs. And for non profits, often their Adwords are just not considered an option in promotional efforts.

Takeaway: Google+ is an underutilized resource that businesses and non-profits still too often overlook. The out of pocket cost to use it? $0.00! The cost to you when you don’t…???

Sure, Google isn’t the warm ‘n fuzzy social network that Facebook is. It’s largely not about the food you just ate, the puppy that just so cutely peed on your carpet or how wonderful life looks. But then, the work of your NGO is probably not furthered by the innuendo’s of “don’t you wish you had what I have” and the now measured increase in dissatisfaction with their life perpetuated by Facebook engagement. Rather, you simply need to get the attention of concerned individuals and organizations and to nurture those in your existing community.

When your community—and especially prospective community—is all over the world, all the more reason to build a strategy that includes a web presence, that gets you in front of people who perhaps don’t even know you exist yet, and to keep connected, without additional expense on top of your time and energy.

All this is to make a long story short. Now is not the time to go into the reasons how and why Google has shifted and changed how it works, what it is offering, that it’s motto “Do No Evil” is noble, though we still worry, and what it is now working on as a company. It simply makes financial and social capital sense to use Google+.

There are many more reasons beyond these 3, but we’ll look at these today.

charity__water_-_Google_1. Boost engagement with the Visually Strong

Google’s focus on great images and graphics sets it apart and appeals to the visual of us / in us. Sure, the social sharing aspect of this remains the currency, provides the traffic and is what you aspire to. Google+ is a great venue if you have someone in your community who lives and breathes images, photography and/or graphics communication. For the visuals of us, this is a great way to connect globally!

2. Integrated Analytics

Urgh! For most of us, “analytics” sounds horrible. But sooner or later (and often later for those of us who live our lives led by our heart and gut) the numbers start to speak to us. Luckily, Google is the king of analytics. So when you find someone in your network—the caring geek—have them help you better understand what “speaks to people”: what gets attention, what gets shared and liked, and what engages people.

3. A doorway to a Suite of Collaboration Tools

Like everything, we are more likely to start to use something when it is a little novel. The novelty and its playfulness gets our toe in many a door, after which we begin to see how we can use these for more “serious” purposes. But seriously, for those of us who are connected internationally and for whom collaboration is more than a nice word, Google’s tools, from gmail on up, including google hangouts which make speaking to thousands live, are invaluable. Most NGOs simply couldn’t afford this kind of option if we had to pay for it.

Oh, and as I said before, there are many more reasons, but I hope this gets you curious enough to go take a look or to find someone who can make it their project to collaborate with you and help your NGO get its’ Google+ page nicely set up. After all, Google has that webpage hosted and ready for you. You just need to get to work with your creative juices to envision and then plan what it can help you get done. And don’t forget to schedule that action!

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