I am sure this will be one of many Google+ posts but since I got my invitation (thanks Mark) I have been playing around on Google + and I have been trying to figure out what impact it will have on my future. I have been thinking about how Google+ fits in my life and in my ministry?
I have to admit, I am an early adopter of any social media. When I find out about a new social media source and I sign up right away, I like the freshness of it, I like the “new car smell” of it. However, it takes a lot to keep me coming back. Currently I have about 10 or so active social media accounts and maybe twice that sitting in the internet wasteland.
I have realize that in order for a product or new social media outlet to enter its way to our daily routines it needs to improve something that we are already doing or it needs to create some sort of addiction. To be successful a social media individual one needs to offer an experience that is so much better than the competition that millions of people want to make a switch.
For example, when I take pictures on my phone I would either directly post it to Facebook, or I would wait to download all my pictures on my computer, do some edits and then post my pictures. However, lately I have been using an app called Instagram to share my pictures. Not only do I think it is simple to use but it makes my pictures look so much cooler.
So where does Google+ fit in? What kind of future do I see for Google+ for myself and my ministry?
Well first I want to say that I don’t know. Like any other social media, it doesn’t work unless people sign up for it. While I am accumulating friends pretty quickly right now on Google+ I am not sure if that is going to keep up. Right now I have 1300+ friends on Facebook and there are about 250 people who “like” St. Mark’s. Will all those people migrate over to Google+? I am not sure.
But here are some of the things that are happening which I like and some things that I hope Google will implement:
Feedback: Right not everyone is “liking” stuff. Every website (including this one) has a Facebook like and a Facebook share button. When we create media we want as many people to experience it as possible. Right now Facebook integrates it into the wall feed — on Google + it comes in the form of +1 and will be streamed to our profiles. It seems simple enough to be useful and easy to use.
Sharing Data: This is one area that both Facebook and Twitter fail for pastors. Many pastors, including myself feel that we need to hold back from sharing too much in social media, or we need to create another profile which only certain people will be a part of. I personally have a hard time keeping up one Facebook profile — there is no way I can keep up two. Also I do not think that having two profiles is a good way to be authentic with who I am as a person and pastor.
Google+ has helped some of this with circles. Before I put my full trust in circles I want to see how they play out. I like the concept of having my friends in one circle, colleagues in another and congregational members in another. That way I can either share the same thing with all of them or pick and choose certain information. This is not meant to be inauthentic but to have some personal space in which I can share thoughts and feelings without being worried what someone is going to think or how someone is going to hear what I say.
Post Length: I like not being cut off for how much I write. Twitter has 140 characters, Facebook has 420 characters. There is no limitation on Google+. Some are considering replacing their blog with Google+. When Google starts to allow business sign up for Google+ could a church use Google+ not only as a communication hub but a stand alone website? I think the possibilities are there. Especially for smaller churches with little to no budgets for a traditional website.
Hangout: Not the most classy name but I see great potential for this feature for ministry. A church could use hang out for a small group Bible Study, meetings, interviews etc. I don’t think it could completely replace these things, I think there is still value and necessity for contact time for studying the word of God and for church council meetings. But perhaps one could hang out with the pastor for 15 min Monday, Wednesday and Friday for a short Bible study before you go off to work. Or perhaps you need to touch base with the executive council between council meetings as can happen from time to time.
Overall, I think Google+ has some great possibilities for me personally and for my ministry. I don’t think it is going to go away anytime soon, I think that it will be interesting to see how quickly it will catch on.
Are you on Google+? How are you going to use it?