A Case Study In Private Google+ Engagement

At Distilled we’ve been using Google+ heavily as an internal communication tool to complement email. Just in the last week:

 Google+ Is Not A Ghost Town

Some have called Google+ a ghost town:

RJ Metrics’ report […] is yet another indicator that Google+ might indeed just be a “virtual ghost town,” as some have argued

Google’s stance is that all critics ignore the large amounts of private sharing:

a Google spokesperson challenged the claims made in RJM’s report. “By only tracking engagement on public posts, this study is flawed and not an accurate representation of all the sharing and activity taking place on Google+,” the spokesperson said. “As we’ve said before, more sharing occurs privately to circles and individuals than publicly on Google+. The beauty of Google+ is that it allows you to share privately–you don’t have to publicly share your thoughts, photos or videos with the world.”

It’s a data point of one but I hope this post strongly supports that statement.

 Why We Use Google+ For Communication

3 offices, 3 time zones. NYC. LON. SEA. Managing internal communications is tough at Distilled.

We’re productivity ninjas and inbox zero addicts so like to keep email focused. Email should be for directed, short and important communication.

However it’s crucially important for us to maintain culture. Sharing memes, gossip and debate is fundamental to what it means to work at Distilled and Google+ let’s us do that without interrupting the importance and efficiency of email.

There are three rules about using D+ (what we call Google+ internally):

It’s that simple. We do try to encourage positive engagement and discourage slagging off competitors etc - the broken window theory is powerful.

Crucially I think the success is down to the following reasons:

  1. No install or login. Everyone is already signed into gmail and so there is no overhead or admin involved with “using” D+, it’s seamless
  2. Integrated with email for smart notifications and threading
  3. Excellent mobile integration for access and participation on the go
  4. Strong visual element (memes ftw!)

 The Mechanics Of How It Works

I’m going to admit that the first few days were a little bit of a nightmare - everyone has (at least) two Google+ accounts tied to various personal and professional identities and so we had to get everyone in the right circles etc.

Once that’s set up however it works like a charm.

When you’re on Google Apps you no longer need to share with a circle, instead you can share with an organization which makes the whole process very slick:

sharing with Distilled

I love the fact that Google remembers your last sharing setting so I never have to worry about my posts becoming public.

Note as well that it’s not always about debate. It’s nice to have more passive sharing going on. For example, here’s a sample post that had zero comments (note the 7 plus ones):

visual post

And note as well that some of those “zero comment” posts were in fact just posts like this:

An example of 'zero' engagement


Google+ may not be perfect and it may not be for you. But I wanted to call bullshit on the “Ghost Town” articles. Google+ has transformed how communication works within our business.

Discussion of this post is over on Google+


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