Thursday, January 19, 2012

Is it time for government to take Google Plus seriously?

Often in government there's only two social media networks discussed and considered for community engagement and communications, Facebook and Twitter.

MySpace is a distant memory, LinkedIn is used just for resumes and services like FourSquare, Plurk, Ning and others are not well-known.

Also not that well known is Google Plus, and perhaps rightly so - it is very new and still quite small in social media terms, only around 62 million users, although it is predicted to grow to over 293 million by the end of 2012, or so Google believes.

However with the recent integration of Google Plus into Google search, it may be time for governments to consider establishing Google Plus channels alongside Facebook and Twitter, due to the impact on search results.

With Google's search tool holding close to 90% of Australia's search market, it is a more dominant 'publisher' than News Limited - and remains the number one website in Australia. Search engines are also the primary source of traffic for Australian government websites, with an average of over 40% of visitors reaching government sites from a search engine (according to Hitwise) - and therefore around 36% coming direct from Google.

So what has Google done? According to Gizmodo, they've integrated Google Plus into their search product in three ways,
First, it now provides "Personal Results" which include media—photos, blog posts, etc—that have been privately shared with you as well as your own stuff. Any images you've set to share using Picasa will also be displayed. Second, Google Search will now auto-complete queries to people in your circles and will display people who might also be interested in what you're searching for in the search results. Finally, it simplifies the process of finding other Google+ profiles for people or specific interest groups based on your query. So if you search for, say, NASA, it will display Google+ profile pages for NASA and space-related Google+ interest groups in addition to the normal results.
Whether you believe this is a good move, a legal move, or not, it does provide opportunities for organisations to leverage Google Plus to improve their overall presence in Google search by operating a Google Plus account.

It's certainly something to keep an eye on, if not actively consider. 


  1. Good thoughts Craig. I for one have never been in favour of governments and its agencies using Facebook - it kinda doesn't fit into the model of government information dissemination and comms and I can't see where it really adds significant value. Facebook is also strongly focussed on 'socialisation' from a persons personal perspective. Enterprises using it are really sticking their nose into a social environment.
    Google Plus however, is new and still able to be 'shaped' by its users. Perhaps if all Australian (and other country) governments started focussing on G+ as an information dissemination vehicle then Google might start to pay attention and respond to requests for additional capabilities.

  2. Robert, I disagree. Part of strategic communication is knowing who you're targeting and going to where they go. If you are targeting youth - as Health's 'drinking nightmare' campaign, or FaHCSIA's 'The Line' do - you go to where they go - Facebook. Communication isn't always just information dissemination; good communication fosters discussion, raises awareness, changes perceptions and ultimately changes behaviours. And those 2 campaigns are achieving some, if not all, of these objectives, and Facebook has been a key part of the strategies.

  3. Hi Craig,

    Love your post. Do you have any idea of how many Australian government departments are on Google Plus (at federal, state or local level)?



    1. Hi Paul,

      I've not tracked this at all sorry.

      I have not seen any with a presence yet - early days :)



  4. Craig - fabulous post. I think it's crucial that G+ is a part of agencies' Gov 2.0 strategy. I've said this in other contexts, but the way I see G+ is as a platform for collaboration around your interest, passions and the causes you follow. It allows you to engage in a nuanced conversation. It allows you to flesh an idea out more deeply, and collaborate on a deeper level. It is easily discoverable by people who share that interest. The collaboration and interaction can go beyond simple text, and allows you to bridge the tyranny of distance in a one-stop-shop. I think there is a lot of potential in G+, and government agencies can take the lead in discovering this potential by tapping into its functionality.


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