During this semester, I’m trying something new. I’m asking students to NOT send me emails. Yes, you read that right–no emails, please. Instead of composing an email, sending it, waiting for me to read it, think about it, then respond, I’m asking my students to communicate with me using Google+.
If you have not used Google+, you should. It’s a powerful communication, collaboration, and publication tool that can not only increase your productivity, but can save you from the email monster.
You can think of Google+ as a communication tool, like email, but much more convenient and with added value and features. Here are just a few reasons I think it’s better than email:
1. You can send messages to one person or groups of people in your custom G+ circles
Want to send a message to a group of people, but have not created a group (remember we used to call these “distribution lists”)? Send a message through G+ and select one person or circles you have created to send messages. (If you are concerned some of these people are not checking their G+ notifications, you always have the option of also checking “Also send an email.”)
2. You can view your new notifications in Google+ and respond to them quickly and efficiently.
I find this particularly helpful in staying on track and up-to-date with messages and responses.
3. You can edit your messages.
For an English major, this is indispensable. I can’t tell you how many times I cringe when I’ve viewed an email I’ve sent with spelling errors. With G+, you can always edit your messages, add more content, whatever. Instead of sending yet another email with information you forgot to include, you can edit your original G+ post. How handy.
4. You can delete messages.
Let’s say you realized you didn’t need to send a message. You can delete it in G+. That’s it. Easy.
5. You can mention someone in your posts.
Google+ allows you to add a person’s G+ name (you enter it with a + in front of it) in a post, which isn’t sent directly to them, but alerts them they are mentioned. Perhaps you are referring to a person’s post and want them to know how you feel about it. I guess the email equivalent of this would be to copy someone.
6. You can re-share posts to other people, circles, and/or communities.
Let’s say you just read an interesting post and wanted to re-share it with your faculty group or class community. It’s easy to do that in G+. Try doing that in email (which would be the equivalent of forwarding an email.) Unless you already had groups set up, you would need to enter each email address. Kind of inefficient, isn’t it?
7. You can disable re-shares of posts.
This allows you to not allow re-sharing of your posts. Perhaps you sent a private message and do not want that person to re-share that message. Of course, he or she could easily copy and paste your message and whirl that around the Internet, but this would be unethical and inappropriate.
8. You can analyze your activity in Google+.
Using a tool called “CircleCount,” you can view all sorts of statistics on your G+ activity–what was your most read post, days and times people commented on your posts, the number of re-shares, and other valuable data. In my case, I use this information to plan and implement better communication tactics. For instance, I’ve discovered that most of my students comment on posts during Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, with Sundays by far being the most comments. This is not a surprising fact, since most of my students are working teachers who use Sundays and weekends to complete their work.
Another tool called Allmyplus provides additional statistics that help you analyze your activity and identify best practices for sharing.
9. Threaded conversations are easier to follow than email.
Let’s face it–email that contains multiple threads and different people you’ve copied can be confusing and messy. G+ posts are easy to follow and track, and searching within Google+ provides you with more valuable information than searching your email inbox.
10. Email resides in your inbox–Google+ is about reading, writing, sharing, publishing.
Email is contained in isolated spaces–your email inbox. Google+ posts can be private, of course, but can be re-shared and also shared with your custom circles or the entire public–the choice is yours. By using Google+, you are participating in a more varied and dynamic environment–you aren’t working in isolation. People comment on your posts, they re-share them, and you become part of a growing, robust community of people who want to share knowledge.
What are your thoughts? Are you using Google+ on a regular basis? Do you still use email as your sole communication tool? Please post your comments–I’d love to hear from you.
- Don’t Send Yet! 9 Email Mistakes You’re Probably Making–And How To Fix Them (fastcompany.com)
- Why I’m Using Google Plus More and More (edtechtoday.wordpress.com)
- Marketers grapple with roadblocking Gmail feature (thehartford.com)
- Google+ Circles: The Unanswered Questions, Answered! (lorrainemariereguly.wordpress.com)