How to Use Google+ For Your Nonprofit

How to Use Google+ For Your Nonprofit

By: Shelly Kramer
November 29, 2011

Image via Google

Marketers and brands alike are excited because Google+ recently announced that businesses can now build pages. If you’re a nonprofit interested in using Google+, you’ve come to the right place.

A week or so ago, we covered how businesses can explore using Google+, and now, we’ve got some suggestions for our nonprofit friends on maximizing G+.

Whether you work for or with a for-profit organization or nonprofit one, there is a lot of great information that we encourage you to check out for an even more in-depth look at the G+ brand experience, and because the platform is still evolving, it pretty much changes weekly.

For now, however, I want to focus on how Google+ pages can seriously benefit nonprofit organizations.

Historically, Google has offered great guidance and assistance for nonprofits, but this past spring Google beefed up its offerings to help these resource- and budget-confined organizations. In addition to getting great support and resources from one of the biggest companies in the world, nonprofits should also be ecstatic about pages being available to them because:

    • Google+ Circles allow you to tailor your communications to the various audiences you speak to,  and communicate more efficiently with them. There’s also the benefit of a focus-group like quality to G+ circles that allows you to communicate with, toss ideas out and potentially gather more information from an interested group of people than what you’d get if you were using a static survey or an email query.
    • The Circles and Hangouts functions allow your organization to have more dynamic, quality interactions with followers, and also increase your visibility to your target audience. Hangouts can be recorded and accessed later (pssst, here are some free tools to use to start recording your Hangouts, because we know you’ll wanna).
    • And, arguably the most important thing to be excited about, Google’s roll-out of Direct Connect seriously boosts your nonprofit’s Google juice.
    • Actually, I’ll take that most important thing back. My favorite functionality of Google+ might just be Ripples because it creates an interactive graphic of any shares of any public post. That, my friends, is metrics. And data. Both of which make me swoon. 

There have been some murmurs about Google+ being dead in the water, but by integrating its most powerful tool (in case you didn’t know, it’s SEARCH) into Google+, this could greatly change its perceived value as a social platform. And specifically for nonprofits, creating a Google+ page could mean you can get invaluable exposure, which can help raise awareness and/or support for your organization…or, more importantly, help with fundraising.

How to Set Up Your Google+ Page

So, if you are nonprofit and looking to get your page up and going, below are some quick and easy instructions:
  • Login into your personal Google+ account and go to your homepage. In the bottom right you’ll see a “Create a Google+ page” button.
  • Click the “Company, Institution or Organization” category on the left and begin entering the appropriate information for your nonprofit.
  • Now that you’ve entered all your information, select an avatar picture – once you do this, your page is set up! But wait–there’s more.
  • Add an introduction, such as your mission statement, to your page. Voila–a complete Google+ page!
  • Once you add your introduction, you can post your first message and start promoting your organization.

Now that you’re on Google+ there are some amazing nonprofit bloggers, organizations and resources on G+. This post by Heather Mansfield on one of our favorite sites, the Nonprofit Tech 2.0 Blog, lists 22 Must-Circle Nonprofit Bloggers and Resources on Google. Her list includes some of our dearest friends and wicked smart folks in the nonprofit realm, like Debra Askanase, Maddie Grant, John Haydon and Beth Kanter. Beth curates some fantastic information Google+ for Nonprofits on ScoopIt!, so if you’re there, be sure and follow and learn from her.

Now that you’re sorta kinda hooked on the potential of G+, just like with anything new, there’s not a press and play button. You’re going to have to expect to roll up your sleeves and learn about the platform, best practices and all kinds of other things. Oh, and then, in order to get any real benefit from Google+, or any social network, you’ll actually have to post stuff. Reguarly. Quit sighing! That’s just how it works. If there was an easy button for all this stuff, think of all the fun we’d be missing out on along the way.

Janet Fouts is a great friend and a fantastic resource on Google+. She’s developed an ongoing webinar series that’s excellent – and even better – it’s free. Start stalking Janet immediately and download those webinars to get you started on the best foot with your nonprofit adventure into Google+.

Here’s a terrific post on the SocialFish blog by John Haydon for you to check out once you’ve gotten your Google+ Page set up – You Finally Have a Google Plus Business Page … Now What?

Why Google+?

Head spinning and still wondering whether you should find time to mess with all this. The answer, at least for us, is a resounding Yes! Why — that’s simple. Google+ pages are the official search profiles for brands. If you’re not taking advantage of that for your business, whether it’s a for profit or a nonprofit, it seems to us that you might be missing an opportunity. Billions of people use Google on a daily basis to search for products, services, nonprofits and the like. Is there a downside to having a business page?

It’s still early in the world of Google+. And some of Google’s “big ideas” have failed (remember Google Wave? Or Buzz?) But Google+, we think it’s going to be around awhile, and that it’s definitely worth learning more about, and certainly setting up a brand page and planting your flag. Especially if you’re a nonprofit.

So there. Consider yourselves armed with the essentials: Why to do it, How to do it, Who’s doing a great job so that I can learn from them. Now, go forth and explore Google+. And, if you’re there already, what do you think?

  • Social Media Agency

    Thanks , it is fantastic artical . Google+ there are some amazing nonprofit bloggers, organizations and resources on G+ and it is faster .

  • I am “swooning” over this incredibly well-researched article on Google+!

    I think that Google+ is going to be such a huge factor in SEO that it really cannot be ignored by any corporate or nonprofit organization. The issue with nonprofits is that they are often resource-stretched (read: no extra staff time) and want to know why they should hop onto a new social network. If I could think of just three reasons, they would echo yours: 1. SEO (more eyeballs finding your cause and org) 2. Hangouts (real-time interactions and connections) and 3. Information (who’s interacting with you, who’s influencing whom, and you can connect back with them, unlike with a Facebook Page). I’d also add that the platform itself is inherently more conducive to longer discussions, so I foresee G+ as a space for thoughtful comments and discussions, more so than on Facebook and Twitter.

    Thank you so much for the kind mention, too. I also think the Chronicle of Philanthropy is doing a great job on Google+ and a must-follow as well there.

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  • Shelly Kramer

    How did I miss this response?? Like you, @Deb, I think G+ is going to have a huge impact on SEO and search in general – and I love the platform. I find it wonerfully personal and the more I explore it, the more I like it. Thanks for the kudos and I’ll check out Chronicle of Philantrophy, too 🙂

  • Shelly Kramer