Tips for becoming more social (at work): Getting started with G+ streams

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    Happy Wednesday all,

    I hope everyone is having a great week so far? Mine has been super interesting, the highlight so far was presenting at the Agile Business Conference in London yesterday. The event was focused on exploring how organisations can sustain an Agile environment not only for their projects but through embracing an holistic Agile culture in the wider organisation - the Google Apps and Google culture stories that I shared seemed to resonate really well with the audience.

    Onto today's article where I wanted to do a deep dive into sharing tips for helping people to get started with using G+ streams.

    As an employee, getting started with using social media for work purposes can be a bit of a scary idea. That was certainly the case for me. What should I share? What will people think? What will they say? And what if they say nothing at all and completely ignore me? That probably sounds a bit silly to many of you, but these were the things that I was worried about. I’m guessing that I'm not alone with this and maybe the same fears hold true for some of the employees within your organisation.

    We have a saying at Google that as employees we need to ‘eat our own dogfood’. That, combined with the fact that my role is focused around helping our customers make the most of Google’s technology and also that I wanted to lead by example internally were three things that encouraged me to get over my fears and jump into the world of corporate social media. I’ve now been active on my corporate G+ account for a number of years (I just looked back and found that I did my first ever post on 7 June 2011 where I published some photos I took at a partner training event) and can happily confirm that it has been a great experience and one I’d suggest that everyone participates in. Through G+ I’ve had the opportunity to connect with Google executives and employees that I wouldn't have had the chance to before, I’ve found experts on topics that have been able to help me out, and I’ve been able to share my lessons learnt and gathered feedback on my ideas, and increased my internal Google network greatly. So far (touch wood) none of the fears that I had about sharing things on G+ have been realised.

    But don’t just take my word for it. A lot of research has been done in this space, proving that there are many benefits to having a social and collaborative organisation. A recent study that we did with Raconteur ‘Working Better Together: Collaboration and Innovation in the Workplace found that 88% of respondents agree that staff who work in collaborative environments have better morale and higher employee engagement. And Deloitte found that organisations that collaborate are 2x more likely to be profitable and 2x more likely to outgrow their competition. It also found that employees who collaborate do 73% better work and are 60% more innovative. Pretty compelling stuff.

    So how do you get started? Below I'll share a couple of tips and ideas that might be useful so that you (+ your employees) feel comfortable in getting started with G+ streams.

    Step one - make a good first impression:

    • Use a clear profile picture of yourself (don’t use a picture of your pet dog or favourite cartoon character)
    • Update your cover photo to give your profile some personality (your pet dog or favourite cartoon character is fine here!)
    • Update your ‘about’ section’

    Step two - get sharing!:

    Suggestions of things you could post
    Share information about product or project launches or updatesShare documents and presentations on G+ rather than via email to increase transparency
    Announce new store or office openingsWelcome new team members and ask them to introduce themselves
    Share interesting research reports or articles with a small snippet of your opinion (also reshare things others have shared- thanking the initial poster) Share summaries of customer meetings including lessons learnt and the presentations used
    Recruit for volunteering opportunities or community projects Share details about the company culture and expected behaviours
    Share team photos and video updates from teams or executivesAsk teams to share team updates on a regular basis
    Solicit feedback on new ideasAsk for suggestions about how aspects of the business or team could be improved
    Recognise team successesAnnounce promotions
    Thank people for their contributions to projectsEscalate issues or look for answers to your questions
    Find experts on a specific topicAsk for information that would help for an upcoming presentation
    Post a quarterly summary sharing achievements for the quarterRun polls to help plan events, get feedback or stimulate ideas
    Share summaries and photos from events that you organised or participated inRun photo competitions with different themes each week or month (best-dressed-desk, view from my desk, picture of my hometown etc)

    Top tips for increasing engagement and interaction with your colleagues:

    • Be authentic and show some personality
    • Be encouraging of others and comment on their posts
    • Post photos and videos (these will get more +1’s and comments than other types of posts)
    • +people into your posts to say thank you or to share something that you know they will find relevant (type: ‘+’name-of-person, these people will automatically be notified by email
    • Highlight elements of your post in bold or italics (if you want text to be bold surround with asterisks (*) if you want the text to be italics surround the text with underscores (_)
    • Share some personal stories - don’t make it all work related
    • Use #hashtags to help get your content discovered
    • Notify people via email to let them know you’ve shared something with them (do this by ticking the box ‘also send an email’)
    • Encourage action - ask for people to +1 your post if they agree with your idea
    • Read and promptly respond to people's comments and ideas
    • Post regularly to give people a reason to follow you

    The more people that use G+ within your organisation the more value you’ll collectively get from it, so encourage your employees to get started, and make sure that you and your executives, leaders and people managers are leading by example. Give people a reason to get involved and show them what the benefits are and give them some of the tips above to help ease them into things.

    If your organisational culture is one built on fear and secrecy it is going to be harder work to make sure employees feel comfortable and safe to share. In that instance it is likely that some foundational changes to the culture will be needed in order for employees truly embrace this new way of working, collaborating and innovating together. For more on the topic of organisational culture and how it might be influencing the uptake of your corporate social networks, have a look at this Forbes article on the subject and you might also find a couple of previous articles that I’ve written on the topic of culture useful too. ‘Organisational culture change 101’ and ‘Tips for enabling a culture of openness and transparency within your organisation’ 

    For more information about setting up G+ as an administrator check out the tips here as well as the ‘What’s new in G+ for Work’ and tips for end users is available on

    As always - feedback encouraged and warmly welcomed!

    Happy posting.