When Google created Google+ they were aiming to create a better social media platform. They realized that social media provides unique opportunities to connect with one another. These opportunities aren’t just powerful means for connecting with friends, but are also powerful tools for business, including law firms, to connect with their clients. The problem, though, is that Google+ hasn’t really caught on. Nonetheless, a lot of people are giving Google+ a second look as the business potentials of the new social media platform become apparent. It may be time for you to do the same.
The main problem with pre-existing social media sites, Google reasoned, is that social media messages are impersonal. After all, everyone can see the message you share on your page. Although you can send a private message, you can share a message with a discrete group of people while hiding that message from others. For that reason, Google felt it was important to provide users with a means for connecting with the right people. In that regard, Google created what they call “Circles” to allow users to control who they shared messages with.
Circles are essentially groups that a user can create to control who receives which information. You can create, for example, a circle titled “Friends” and add all of your friends to it. You can then create a circle called “Co-workers” and add all of your colleagues to it. This way, when you share a pictures from that summer BBQ that went all night, you don’t have to share those “party time” pictures with your colleagues while making them available to your friends. This isn’t just important so that you can share one type of message with friends and another with family and/or co-workers, but it can also be important for businesses and law firms because it allows you to share different messages with, for example, existing clients versus potential clients. It’s a pretty cool tool and the possibilities for law firms is certainly intriguing.
Google+ also allows you to create Hangouts where you can video conference with up to 10 users. Hangouts provide a method for offices to have a meeting with up to 10 members of the practice even if the participants are all in different locations. You can also use Hangout to have one-on-one chats with free video conferencing with witnesses, experts, and clients.
You can even create “Hangouts On Air” that are public and viewable by the entire world. You could use this feature to schedule a session for many potential clients where you discuss the basics of a certain legal topic. It can be used as a great way to market your knowledge and expertise to many people simultaneously in a way that allows your personality to come through. President Obama even used a Hangout On Air to connect with supporters in early January. By all accounts, it was a success.
Ultimately it is clear that Google+ offers some great opportunities for lawyers who want to take advantage of its services. The question that remains is whether it will catch on.
Have you used Google+ in your practice? If so, what was your experience like? Let us know in the comments section.