Has Google built a social tool for the professional fundraising community?

OK, so I’ve been playing with Google + the last couple of days.

I have to admit, I was underwhelmed by Google Wave – weren’t we all? – and I don’t have a Gmail account, so Google Buzz didn’t register with me much. So I wasn’t expecting Google + to impress me as much as it has. I share with my colleagues in the fundraising biz on Twitter and really enjoy that quick-fire format.

But against the odds Google + has impressed me. I think they’ve built a network that answers the social needs of professional fundraisers. Why?

Well, the concept of Circles is great. It means I can subdivide the people I know into Fundraising Colleagues or Friends, for a start. And within that I can share with colleagues who work in universities or the wider sector, just by setting up different Circles. Or folk who are interested more primarily in social media, etc. etc.

Once I’ve done that, yes, it does look very much like Facebook, except that it’s now, because of the crossover with Twitter among adopters, like having a Twitter chat with the people I like and interact with regularly there, but with much richer content. So far so good! And there’s the Twitter-like freedom of being able to add anyone I like to my Circles without having to worry about the social anxiety from Facebook of how well I know them.

It beats LinkedIn for me because LinkedIn is so much more focused around your CV and treats discussions as a sideshow, particularly on mobile. Also because I’m sharing professional views with who I choose to, I don’t have to worry that someone’s going to come in on a discussion primarily to try to sell to me. Another bonus.

And then there’s what I think could be Google +s ‘killer app’ – Hangouts. Up to 10 way video chat with just the individuals or people in Circles you want to invite. I tried it last night with Howard Lake of UK Fundraising and Kimberley Mackenzie. I’ve spoken to them both so many times on Twitter, but this was the first time we’d ever ‘met’. It was huge fun, enlivened by my 11 year old son, Joe, chipping in on the chat. We were all impressed by the video quality, and the way it senses who’s talking and focuses on them, so that everyone else has a visual signal whose turn it is to talk. You can even all watch YouTube content together. Joe’s verdict – “Awesome, Dad. Way better than Facebook!”

I want a webcam at work, now. I really do.

So, a rich blog-sharing/commenting platform where you can post at discretion and break into video chat to discuss compelling issues or content? Sounds tailor made for fundraisers to me. Why not grab yourself an invite and have a go? Feel free to add me 🙂


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