MIT has a large Google+ following, to its main page as well as its many departments, e.g.,: Alumni Association, Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Center for Civic Media, MIT Energy Initiative, and Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences.
Earlier this month, those of us who manage Google+ pages and communities for MIT departments met via Hangout with Amelia Muller of Google+ Community Partnerships. We discussed ways to go beyond “just posting news” on Google+:
- Profiles. Faculty, researchers, students, alumni, and administrators can share their research and passions in the field through personal profiles and may link to/mention the MIT page. For example, Hiroshi Ishii, Bradley Horowitz, Joichi Ito, John Baez, and Amy Robinson have Google+ profiles.
- Organize with Circles. Use circles to organize other organizations on Google+. “Circles are the organizing principle of Google+.” – Amelia Muller
- Google Hangouts. Involve up to 10 different screens at once. Screens do not necessarily have a one-to-one correlation with people, but can mean more than ten people, even ten groups.
- Hangouts office hours. Get questions answered in real time. Students, professors, or administrators don’t have to travel, and don’t have to go to the office if it isn’t convenient.
- Hangouts On Air. Announce discoveries and discuss these advancements in a Hangout On Air. Go beyond Google+; promote it on YouTube and embed on your website. This means people without a Google account can watch.
- Events. Collect photos, videos, comments in one place as the event is happening. Ask for questions to be submitted beforehand. Turn on Party Mode on your Android phone, and any photo you take during that span of time is uploaded to the event page.
- Class-based communities. Sections of a course can have their own communities on Google+ for discussing homework, tests, problem sets, etc. This allows for discussions and a blended learning experience.
- Topic-based communities. Got some science news? Don’t just post it to your wall. Post it in a topic community with a self-selected audience. For example, Amy Robinson posted about MIT researchers in the Science on Google+ Community.
- Event-based communities. Before the event, participants can join a Google+ community and introduce themselves. Events may include scavenger hunts and other online activities that reinforce and augment engagement during the in-person event, merging the in-person and digital experiences. Follow-up for an event: communities are a destination for that back-and-forth dialogue.
- Hashtags. Generally, look for hashtags that are trending on Google+ and then post. Try #ThrowbackThursday with retro photos from campus.
- College athletics. Integrate Google+ into promotion. Use events for Homecoming game, watch from home, hangout with star players and coaching staff, etc.
- Alumni conversations. Alumni can use private hangouts to interview students for admissions and host mentoring sessions.