Google+ launches communities

Google+ is an interesting – if quiet – place. It’s not used by very many people, which is a shame, as the interface is rather nice and it features some really cool bits of technology.

Hangouts, for instance, are fantastic – on demand video conferencing which integrates neatly with Google’s other services likes Docs and so on.

However, because so few people are active there, it does feel a bit empty at times. When asked if organisations should use it as a space for engagement, I tend to say no – as time would be better spent working with the much larger existing communities on Twitter and Facebook.

Perhaps though Google+ is just a different space for doing different things. I wonder if it’s a better vehicle for collaboration than communication.

Take the new communities – basically the G+ version of Facebook Groups. You create your community, invite people in and then share updates, links, videos and so on just as you do in other similar spaces.

I’ve set up a ‘digital innovation’ community to test it out – do join in!

Here’s a video to explain more:

Communities are nicely integrated into other Google services – for example you can share links into your communities directly from Google Reader; and with a bit of fiddling can make a Google Doc editable by all members of a community. Of course, this being G+, you also have the ability to video conference via Hangouts whenever you want.

I have reservations about how useful G+ communities will be for public engagement activities. However, as I mentioned above, they are particularly suited I think to project working.

Indeed, the suite of tools that Google has made for collaboration, including Communities, the email based Groups, Docs, Hangouts, the wiki-like Sites – is fantastic and mostly free.

If you are a small organisation or team, and don’t have too many hangups about information security and so on, Google does pretty much everything you need to work smarter out of the box. Well worth having a play.

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