Google+ and the museum


It has been five months since Google+ launched, and while the initial buzz around this new social network being a potential Facebook killer hasn’t proved correct, the service has ‘slowly’ built a user base of over 50 million.

This week Google+ added Pages, brand-specific accounts for businesses. Companies like Pepsi, GAP and McDonald’s have been quick to set up profiles for themselves, but is there a place for museums and galleries on this new social network, and for those struggling to keep up with their institutions profiles on Facebook and Twitter is it really worthwhile adding Google+ to the mix?

Here are a few reasons to consider it:

1. Landgrab
Google don’t verify that Google+ business page are being set up by someone authorised to do so by the organisation in question, so it is important for museums and galleries grab their pages before someone else does.

2. Google+ doesn’t have to be hard work
You don’t have to create unique content for this new social network. If your already producing posts for Facebook and Twitter, just replicate some of these for Google+ (Disclaimer: though in time you may find this audience does need different content).

3. Video
When Google+ launched earlier in the year it included a ‘video conferencing’ tool called ‘hangouts’. This is also available for business users, including museums and I feel that this has huge potential.

Imagine a curator hosting ‘hangout’ sessions and engaging in discussions with followers, I think that is an exciting prospect.

4. Less competition
While Facebook and Twitter have more users then Google+, they also have the disadvantage of a lot more competition for the attention of users.

Google+ lets you reach audiences through less cluttered newsfeeds.

5. Search
While Facebook uses a walled garden approach where content can only be accessed by members, Google+ is an open platform so someone doesn’t need to subscribe to your newsfeed to read them.

Search is Google’s big advantage over Facebook and you can guarantee that they will leverage this to make it worth businesses, and museums being on Google+.

Conclusion

It is early days and Google+ may thrive or struggle to survive, but I feel that it is worth museums and galleries reserving their Google+ profile and dipping a toes in the water.

Has your museum set up a profile on Google+, what response have you had so far?

 

2 Responses to “Google+ and the museum”

  1. Kevin Bacon says:

    Thanks, Jim, this is a useful post. A lot of the discussion around Google+ seems to be based on people calling its future rather than considering how it works, so this is an unusually measured response!

    I’ve set up a G+ page for the Royal Pavilion and Museums in Brighton, but this is currently not much more than a holding page. I’ve been polling local G+ users and our Twitter followers for an opinion (http://rpmcollections.wordpress.com/2011/11/09/do-you-google-plus/) but the response is rather limited at present.

    Aside from the advantages listed here, there are two further ones that strike me:

    1/ The G+ Android app has a great feature where you can view public comments posted by nearby users. I don’t know whether this will be open to branded pages, but it would be great for Google+ users to spot a museum’s content while in the area.

    2/ Brighton Museum is a typical Victorian treasure box museum, with collections ranging from ethnographic collections to toys to local history. It’s hard to keep subject specialists engaged with our social media activity, because we have such diverse collections to talk about. Google+’s circles may prove a way of dividing our audience into areas of interest, so we can keep them engaged with the content that appeals to them. At the moment I don’t honestly know how one would gather that information from them in a non-intrusive way, but it would be great if we could find a way to do this.

  2. This is a very interesting article, Jim! For the moment, our Museum (a museum devoted to the Romantic Period) is not using Google+. For us, it would mean making an extra effort because we think users are looking for different things on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, etc. For this reason, we try to create specific content for each social network in which we are. It’s a lot of work, yes, but this allows us to have a more personal communication with users!
    That’s why we decided to wait with respect to Google+, but your post gives us some ideas for when we decide to try, thanks!