By Jeff Kline


How To Use Google+ Hangouts, Circles and Communities

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A few weeks ago, I listed the top 6 benefits of using Google+ as a nonprofit organization. Today, I’ll go more in depth on how to use some of those features to promote your organization and engage with potential new members, donors, volunteers and supporters.

As with all social media sites, the road to success is lined with lots of valuable, relevant content. Sharing interesting content establishes your organization as a thought leader and helps to start discussions with your audience. Google Plus has three great tools for sharing content and engaging with your followers: Hangouts, Circles and Communities.



Google+ Hangouts

google plus hangouts icon

Google Plus Hangouts is a video-conferencing tool that allows you to chat privately with 10 people or broadcast live to a public audience.

You may have already been using YouTube to post pre-recorded videos. But now you can broadcast your videos live on Hangouts, and afterwards they will automatically be saved to your YouTube channel.

5 Ways Nonprofits Can Use Google+ Hangouts

  • Online board meetings: If you have board members located out of the city or state, a Hangout can be the perfect solution. Use a group chat to “video in” anyone who couldn’t make the board meeting in person. Or simply host the entire meeting online!
  • Educational programming: Valuable educational content is great way to attract new supporters and members to your organization. Use Hangouts On Air to publicly broadcast a weekly, monthly, quarterly or annual educational online show. Make sure the content of your show remains relevant to your organization and your current members. For example, a real estate association could host a show about best methods for marketing homes to prospective buyers.
  • Interviews: Find a notable person relevant to your organization and invite them to be interviewed on a live Hangout. For a chamber of commerce, you could interview a local high profile CEO about best practices for running a successful business. Promote the Hangout beforehand to ensure plenty of people will be tuning in.
  • Online classes: If your organization provides classes or programs to your members, broadcasting those classes could be extremely valuable. You could meet the needs of your current members by being extremely accessible (like if they can’t make it one week) and allow prospective members to get a sneak peek into what your organization provides its members. (Remember, if the class is private only to paying attendees, you can only group chat privately with up to 10 people.)
  • Volunteer Info Sessions: When you get applications from people interested in volunteering with your organization, invite them to a Hangout group chat to tell them more about your organization and upcoming volunteer opportunities. Set it up as a virtual meet and greet—encourage them to ask questions and speak with current volunteers. It’s a great way to quickly get to know people, without them having to physically drive to your location.

Check out how these Illinois state government officials used Google+ Hangouts to broadcast their town hall meeting to an online audience.



Google+ Circles

google plus circles iconGoogle+ Circles allow you to segment your audience into custom groups ("circles") and share different content with different groups of people. This is extremely valuable since nonprofits have multiple target audiences: current members, future members, volunteers, individual donors, corporate sponsors, board members, local community members, and so on. By categorizing your contacts into different circles, you can easily share relevant content with the right people.

How Nonprofits Can Use Google+ Circles

Instead of sending out “volunteer opportunity” announcements to all of your contacts (many of whom would be irrelevant), you can tailor your post to only send out to your Volunteers circle. And when you have a great article on hiring strategies you’d like to share, you can send it only to your “business owners” circle and avoid boring your college-aged volunteers.

Not only does this allow your organization to remain 100% relevant to different supporter groups, but it’s also a great solution to the growing problem of clutter on social networks. 

Posting to your Google+ circles



Google+ Communities

google plus communities iconAnother way to remain totally relevant to the people you’re talking to is to join the appropriate Google Plus Communities.

Communities are a lot like LinkedIn Groups—they are formatted similar to discussion boards and the conversation revolves around a specific topic. Communities are great places to establish your specialized expertise, learn from other experts, and meet people who might be good prospects for your organization.

One big advantage Communities have over LinkedIn Groups is that you can join Communities as yourself AND as your organization page. That’s pretty valuable, when it comes to promoting your nonprofit!

How Your Organization Can Use Google+ Communities

Some other communities that would be beneficial for any nonprofit to join include:



Up Next: 10 Twitter Tips for Nonprofits

Twitter is the fourth largest social network in the world, with more than 200 million active users. It can be an extremely valuable platform for promoting your organization, building a following and connecting with your audience. Next week I'll share 10 tips to help you make the most of Twitter for your organization!


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