Tag Archives: Google Plus

How journalists can use Google+ circles

The 10,000 Words blog has an interesting suggestion for local reporters – but this post is probably worth a read by all journalists.

Meranda Watling suggests setting up circles in Google+ for each reporting area to allow you to share news stories, information, and interact with contacts.

The thing to point out is that your contacts don’t need to have a Google+ account – their email address can be added to a circle and they will then receive updates in their inbox.

A UK local reporter could create a circle for education, one for county council contacts and another for borough or district councillors, for example.

Watling has a suggestion to allow contacts to opt in to receiving your posts:

Create a general public “everything” circle that gets all the items you post — and place everyone you add (or who adds you) here by default. Tell people that these other specific circles exist, and give them the option to be included there and also to exclude themselves from other circles (including your everything list). Yes, this is absolutely going to take time, especially at first and especially if you’re a large news organisation. But think of the usefulness.

With this general set-up, you’ll be able to target relevant news directly to the stream of people most interested in it. Rather than have multiple Facebook pages to keep track of, you can simply select which circle each post is shared with each time you post.

Think of the comment threads that can be developed among only people specifically interested in that area of news. Also, if you’re looking for news tips or sources, post a message to that circle. It only goes to relevant folks and other people don’t feel bombarded with pleas.

Watling notes caveats such as dealing with non-tech-savvy contacts. There is also the problem that contacts are likely to view updates arriving by email as spammy.

The full 10,000 Words post is at this link.

For 10 other ways journalists can use Google+ click here.

If you are a journalist and not yet on Google+ and would like an invite, fill in this form and I will attempt to invite you.

How to record audio interviews using Facebook’s new video option

Facebook’s new video service gives journalists an alternative way to record quality audio for radio broadcasts and podcasts.

You will only be able to call your Facebook friends, so it will no doubt have limits for journalists who prefer to keep their Facebook profiles private and as a space for friends rather than professional contacts.

This is where Google+ (plus) could be useful, which has a video viewer, plus the option of group video chats allowing you to create a group discussion for a podcast and record it. There are details of how to record audio using Google+ in this post and details of how to record from Skype in this post.

To record quality audio using Facebook:

1. Download Audio Hijack Pro for Macs (there is a free trial version) or try a recorder for Windows;

2. Download video calling for Facebook by clicking here;

3. Make sure you are friends with the person you want to call, that you can see a green button beside their name and click the video logo. They will have to go through the one-time install for the video recorder if they have not already done so;

4. Select the ‘default system input’ button in Audio Hijack and click record;

5. You can then view and edit the MP3 or AIFF file.

Ten ways journalists can use Google+

Since Google+ (plus) was launched a week ago those who have managed to get invites to the latest social network have been testing out circles, streams and trying to work out how it fits alongside Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Here are 10 ways Google+ can be used for building contacts, news gathering and sharing:

1. As “a Facebook for your tweeps”

This is how Allan Donald has described Google+ in an update. And it is pretty good way of understanding it. A week on from its launch and it seems you are more likely to add and be added by Twitter contacts, many of whom you have never met, than Facebook friends or even LinkedIn contacts.

2. As a Delicious for your Twitter contacts

As the Google+1 button takes off and your contacts recommend articles (Google +1 is like Facebook’s like button), you can keep track of what they like by taking a look at what they are +1ing and use it like a bookmarking service to flag up articles to read later.

Reading what others are +1ing relies on users changing their settings as the standard set-up does not allow +1s to be viewed by others.

3. To check Twitter updates via Buzz

If you signed up to Google Buzz, you will find tweets are included in your profile. It is another way you can read the most recent tweets from your contacts.

4. To create and share in circles

One of the foundations of Google+ and how it differs from Facebook is the circles function. There are suggested circles such as ‘family’, ‘friends’ and ‘acquaintances’ but you can add your own. For example, you could have a ‘journalists’ circle, a ‘contacts’ circle and categorise others by a specialist topic or a geographic area you report on. You can then choose to share updates, photos, videos and documents with particular circles.

5. To crowdsource circles

You can ask a question to those within one or more of your circles. For example, I might want to ask those in my ‘journalists’ circle a question without my ‘family’ circle being included.

6. For searching and sharing content using sparks

Search for any word or phrase in sparks and you will find news items. Google+ uses Google+1 recommendations and Google Search to influence the items that appear in your sparks list. After searching you can then share content with the people in your circles and therefore read and share news without leaving the Google+ site.

7. For promoting content and discussing it

“Automated spewing of headlines likely won’t be effective, but conversing will,” journalism professor and media commentator Jeff Jarvis has predicted in a post. Content is shared and users comment like they would on a Facebook post.

8. For carrying out and recording interviews

Google+ includes the option of instant messaging, video calling and voice chatting with your contacts, similar to Skype. It may well be found to be quite a handy tool when you can see your contacts online and call them. Contacts do not need to be members of Google+ as you can chat with your Gmail contacts.

One option is recording the chat for your notes or for audio and video content for a news site or podcast. One way to record audio is download Audio Hijack Pro (Mac), select the Google Talk plugin (you may find you need your Gmail open to find this as an option) and record. A quick test has proved this provides podcast-quality audio that can be easily edited.

There are various recording options for Windows.

9. For collaborating on Google Docs by circle

This nifty feature which marries Google Docs and Google+ is really handy for those working on a big story or organising spreadsheets with work colleagues. For example, you can create a circle of your work colleagues, go to Google Docs, check the tick box to select the relevant document, go to share in the black Google bar along the top of your window, and share the document with your relevant circle.

10. For wider collaborative projects

Okay, so you cannot yet but it is included as it is likely that Google+ will adopt some of the functions of Google Wave which would allow you to comment and collaborate on articles and projects.


Google+ launches to rival to Facebook: a round-up of reports

Google has launched a social network with some Facebook-like features. Google+ (plus) is open by invitation only to a very limited number of people while it is in the field test stage but Google has released details on its blog as to how it works.

One of its features is called ‘circles’, which allows users to categorise contacts and only share items with particular groups such as close friends and family but opt to exclude work contacts.

According to the New York Times, this is the “one significant way” in which Google+ is different from Facebook and the way “Google hopes will be enough to convince people to use yet another social network”.

It is meant for sharing with groups — like colleagues, roommates or hiking friends — not with all of one’s friends or the entire web. It also offers group text messaging and video chat.

A post on Poynter points out the most interesting area for news organisations are the ‘stream’ and ‘sparks’.

The stream functions a lot like Facebook’s news feed — a flow of information shared by your friends. If Google+ grows to critical mass, news providers could find it very important to get their content into the stream.

The ‘sparks’ section is a bigger innovation. Essentially, sparks are topics that users designate an interest in. Google uses Google+ sharing activity and +1s, as well as its famous search algorithms, to recommend personalised content for each spark, according to Mashable.

Poynter’s post suggests the Google +1 button, which has received a less than lukewarm reception from news sites, could now come into its own.

Suddenly the +1 button makes more sense. Google announced +1 in March as a way for users to express approval of any web page. Now it seems the +1 button will infuse not only search results, but also sparks, with social recommendations. TechCrunch interviewed Google officials about Google+ and reports: “You’ll see a +1 button on all Google+ content — the +1 button clearly ties deeply into all of this. It is going to be their Facebook ‘like’ button.”

So Google appears to have released its tweet or like button before the social network to share it. A case of the cart before the horse?

Poynter’s post goes on to assess the potential usefulness of Google+ and how it could affect news consumption and delivery. It also states that there has been much scepticism about its success, following less successful attempts with social projects Google Buzz and Google Wave, but author Jeff Sonderman suggests there is hope for Google+.

It’s fair to say that Google+ appears to be different, more comprehensive and more well-planned than any previous effort. The design is great, the ideas sound good and the company is making a large commitment to success.

Marshall Kirkpatrick from ReadWriteWeb has tried it out – and he is impressed, describing it as a “smart, attractive, very strong social offering from Google”.

It is well worth reading his post after he spent a night with the new social network.

But the New York Times argues its Google+ project, which has seen huge investment, may have come too late

In May, 180 million people visited Google sites, including YouTube, compared with 157.2 million on Facebook, according to comScore. But Facebook users looked at 103 billion pages and spent an average of 375 minutes on the site, while Google users viewed 46.3 billion pages and spent 231 minutes.

Advertisers pay close attention to those numbers — and to the fact that people increasingly turn to Facebook and other social sites like Twitter to ask questions they used to ask Google, like a recommendation for a restaurant or doctor.

The article goes on to explain why Google+ has now come at this time, long after Facebook’s creation.

Larry Page, Google’s co-founder, regrets Google’s failure to lead in this market and has spent time working with the team since he became chief executive in April, people at the company say. He promoted [Vic] Gundotra to senior vice president this year, placing him on an equal level with the heads of Google’s core products like search and ads.

Part of the blame, analysts say, falls on Google’s engineering-heavy culture, which values quantitative data and algorithms over more abstract pursuits like socialising.

The consensus of blog posts seems to be another positive cultural shift for Google is strong design, as the Next Web reports.

Google+ and all that falls under its umbrella looks good — really good. The trademark minimalism is still present, but it’s been done with style (is that contradictory?) and is something to be appreciated.

That’s because interface designer Andy Hertzfeld, member of the original Apple Macintosh team, was given free reign over design decisions, AppleInsider reports.

Despite the headline, Hertzfeld is quoted in the piece describing the process and it seems he was not so much given free reign as he took it. “Better to ask forgiveness than permission” and so on.

Hertzfeld was worried that Larry Page wouldn’t like it with its animations and drag-and-drop fanciness, but “he loves it”.

A video overview from Google explains how Google+ works

What other news outlets have reported:

Telegraph: Google+ explained

Telegraph: Google+ takes on Facebook

Mashable: Google+: first impressions

Mashable: Google launches Google+ to battle Facebook [pics]

Gigaom: Why Google+ won’t hurt Facebook, but Skype will hate it

Guardian: Google+ launched to take on Facebook

Poynter: Google+ sparks interest in new system of news discovery

TechCrunch: That was quick: Chrome extension adds Facebook, Twitter sharing to Google+

The Drum: Google+ launched as fresh rival to Facebook

ReadWriteWeb: First night with Google Plus: This is very cool

NY Times: Another try by Google to take on Facebook

TechCrunch: While we await the native app, the Google+ iPhone mobile web app is pretty solid

The Next Web: Wondering why Google+ actually looks good? Thank Andy Hertzfeld