I truly believe journalists need to be open to new opportunity to connect with communities and learn how to share. Any time a legitimate organization launches a new way to communicate, I’m going to jump. I’m curious. I’m hungry to connect. I want to learn its potential.
That’s what I’ve done inside Google+. It is a fresh start and I think Google has taken the lessons learned from communities built in Twitter and Facebook. Facebook offers privacy while Twitter allows openness. Both established social networks created ways to build lists and groups to help organize your contacts after the social networks were built. Google+ allows you to establish circles from the start. I have built a personal profile and a non-official professional profile for KOMU8. Inside each space I’ve learned what may work for journalists inside this new and evolving space. I have 5 reasons why you should give it a try.
1. Get in on a social media space from the beginning.
Very few newsrooms quickly jumped into Twitter or Facebook. Many are playing catch up. This is an opportunity for journalists to be there at the beginning. I created a KOMU News account inside Google+ because newsrooms are good at sharing. We vet information, we share and people trust us. Why not become a leader inside a new space?
2. Reach out and find your audience.
The Google+ search is improving by the day. As a person, I’ve created circles of professionals and friends who I want to follow. For the newsroom profile, I’ve created regional profiles where I have circled people who live in different towns, counties and work in different organizations. I’m still trying to see what works best, but when someone comments on a newsroom post, I almost immediately know where that person is from because I can hover my arrow over their name and see what circle they’re in. Take the time to search for major businesses, topics and locations that may show additional people from your area who could be added into a circle. As additional people follow the KOMU8 brand, I look at their profiles and add them into regional circles. If a circle for their area doesn’t exist, I create one. I haven’t decided if regional or employment (or both) circles work best, but it’s worth creating regional Google+ scanners and see if it works when there are more people inside this space!
3. Play with hangouts.
We’ve gone live in two broadcasts (and another in less than an hour) so far with a Google Hangout discussion. It’s simple to find people we trust to attend these hangouts and it’s so cool to have found the technical ability to not only feed our computer into our broadcast control room, but also because you can hear it. We haven’t figured that technical challenge out before. I love how new technology pushes us to try new things. Our broadcast hangouts created quite a buzz. So much, I ended up on a local talk radio show talking about the uses of Google+. We’re having fun and expanding the conversation way beyond this new social network. You can read about our Hangouts here and I wrote an earlier post about it here.
4. Encourage followers to circle others from your organization.
Since we are all in this social media world together, once you have additional folks contributing content into Google+, make sure your followers know about it. I’m regularly updating a list of KOMU8 News folks and making sure each person’s profile is links for easy circling. What’s really great is I can just edit the original post and add the latest names. Then I reshare the post to let our followers know I updated it. I don’t have to recreate this post multiple times. (Think of all of those topics you’ve tried to promote again and again on Facebook. You wouldn’t have to rewrite and rewrite, you can just share and share and share.)
In an ideal Google+ world, I would ask our followers to tell us what circles they’d like to be in. I’d love to offer our audience the chance to get extra information if they really like weather or sports or specific news topics like courts, development or politics. These opt-in circles could get live blogs and extra video and images that the average news consumer may not want but our newsroom could deliver it on demand to the appropriate circles. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say we’re tweeting too much information about a specific topic or someone on our Facebook wall says they have heard enough. We could tone down those complaints and actually play more content to those who want it.
5. Experiment and ask people what they’d like to do with Google+.
We’re all in this together. Be open and share what you’re learning and ask what others are learning. Share your ideas and include your audience in the learning. My profile is very open and explains what I do at KOMU8 and the Missouri School of Journalism. I also made sure the KOMU8 profile mentioned I’m the wizard behind the smoke and mirrors. The most interesting input I’ve had so far are from people in my market AND others who are just really interested in what KOMU8 is doing online. I’m getting great input and ideas from far and wide.
I don’t own an Android, but I’ve been told Huddles could have great implications as well for journalists. Maybe an Android journalist could let me know what he or she thinks.
If this is the first post you’ve read from me, feel free to check out my first impression post about G+ and you might be interested in this Google Doc where Google fans put together a guidebook with more than a hundred people adding content to it. I think that’s pretty cool.