For those of you still struggling to find the benefit of using Google + rather than your long-standing social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook; there could be some new hope in the latest colt out of the Google+ stable, Google+ Events. To give credit where credit is due Google+ Events totally wipes the floor with Facebook’s current events feature. Picture this – literally picture, because being able to instantly share pictures of things as they happen is one of the features of Google plus events – but I’m jumping ahead.
Imagine, you decide to put on an event and you want to invite your friends using an online tool. (Why bother with paper invitations and snail mail when news of your event can be delivered in an instant) So what tool do you choose? Easy, the one offers you the ability to allow attendees to upload and share information and pictures about the event before, during and after your occasion. In case you have missed the significance of the last statement, this means it’s like having a personal RSS feed for your event!
As well as synchronising with Google calendar, Google+ Events keeps all the information about your event in a single central location, accessible by all your guests. Basically gone are the “Send me that picture I’d love a copy” conversations. Instead of sending them out individually by uploading your pictures to the event page and using the “party mode” feature; everyone who attends can upload, view and download pictures from the event page. Even better, anyone unable to attend has the option of viewing the event live online and seeing a slideshow of the pictures being uploaded. Now there’s no need to feel excluded ever again just because you couldn’t make the date.
Not only does your event get its own dedicated page you can set the preferences to allow guests to invite others too. Google has introduced a special events tab where you can click The Create Event button and then complete all the details about your event. There is a theme feature, which is really a choice of Header pictures, but you do get the option of using your own. You can invite people in your circles; make it public as well as sending invites to people who aren’t currently using Google+. This is definitely a smart move by Google who is still trying to gain a greater share of the social media market. Currently Google+ has only 201 million users compared to Facebook’s over 900 million users.
The integration with Google calendar means that invitees can check their availability without leaving the dedicated events page. A small pop-up appears showing any commitments in their Google calendar around the time of the event so invitees can see conflict immediately.
After your event is over, all the pictures are consolidated on the Events page, making it easy to sort them by who took them, who’s in the photo and when the picture was taken. Time tagging the pictures creates a chronological feed of the event; very helpful for those whose party habits sometimes leave them with memory gaps.
If this wasn’t enough, your event page can highlight the pictures with the most views and comments in the Event Highlights section enabling you can see the most talked about part of your event (although this may not necessarily be the best part of it).
Whilst the possibilities for the party animal are endless, the question remains how useful will it be for business? How often do organisations create events requiring a continuous picture stream? On the downside Google are already busy fixing a weakness in the Google+ Events that has seen some Google+ users swamped by spam. The usual gang of people with nothing better to do, quickly set about sending out fake invites to the great and the good which were automatically added to their calendars. Google are now making changes which will give users more control over how events are added to their calendars. (Tip: if you are already having problems with Google+ Events spam, you can change your calendar settings using the settings cog wheel on the far right of the page. Set “show events you have declined” and “automatically add invitations to my calendar” to NO)
Google+ Events is another step towards fusing the online and off-line experiences. No doubt with a little ingenuity businesses will soon be finding ways to utilises the benefits of Google+ events. If you have any suggestions we’d love to hear them.
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