If you’ve logged into Google+ lately, you know there’s a new feature called “Events.” A notification pops up the first time you log in, but in case you just clicked away and ignored it, you can find “Events” in your left-hand sidebar:
What are Google+ Events? Events are a feature you can use to . . . create events. Not a lot different than Facebook Events, but cooler because Google+ has some nice features that Facebook doesn’t have. Google+ Events have also been compared to Evite, for how they put Evite to shame. I suppose they could be viewed as competition for Evite, as they are another event management system.
Google+ Events are easy to use. Once you’re on the “Events” tab, just click on the red “create event” box in the upper right hand corner of the screen. That will bring this screen up for you:
There are five things I really like about events.
1. There Are Many Theme Pictures to Choose From
As you can see up at the top, you can change the theme of your event. They have all kinds of photos to represent birthdays, a night on the town, even a baby shower. Not a big deal maybe, but a nice touch. And, with how visual everything online is these days, having a relevant and catchy photo at the top of your invitation could increase responses.
2. You Can Use Events to Create Hangouts
Under the “advanced” settings of the “Event options” tab, you can use Events to create a Hangout. (See photo above). This is a great way to invite people to a Hangout and to easily communicate before the Hangout. Need to change the time? Just post it in the comments. Want to suggest additional topics for the Hangout? Post it in the comments.
Events just makes setting up and managing your Hangout easier. And who isn’t all about easier?!
3. You Can Use Events to Create Hangouts on Air
I love this one. It’s a great way to advertise your Hangout on Air. Again, see the photo above where you choose this option under the “Advanced” settings. Note that your Event has to be created as a Hangout on Air. You can’t go back later and make it that way.
Either I’m lazy or I really can’t think of a better way to put this, but I’m going to quote from Google as to how this works:
When you make an event on air, you create an event that anyone can find and view. However, events on air have a limited guest list. The people you invite can comment and add photos, unless you disable these options. Event viewers who aren’t on the guest list will be able to see the content of the event page, including who’s attending and the event photo collection. These viewers will also be able to +1 photos and share the event for others to view.
This is nice because it still gives you control over who can comment and add photos. But at the same time you’re encouraging new connections.
4. It’s Easy to Invite and Engage People
You can invite individuals on Google+, your specific circles, or even just enter the gmail address of the person you want to invite and it will pull up her G+ profile.
Once you send out an invite, it’s just as if you had shared a post with the people you invited. It appears in their Google+ stream, in their notifications, and they receive an email (unless they have email notifications turned off in their settings). It will look like this in your stream:
At the top where it says “Going,” you can click the box and choose “yes,” “no” or “maybe.”
If you’ve set it up so that others can invite people, the icon next the the “Going” box is there for you to click on and invite others.
If you’ve scheduled your event to be a Hangout, that’s indicated right on the invite. And right below the Hangout label is a photo strip of who’s going, which can provide you with some nice social proof.
And, just like any other post, people can comment below the post. This allows you to build excitement and value before the event. Also, when a comment is posted, that naturally brings your Event back up to the top of your invitee’s stream.
One more cool thing (that exceeds my technical abilities to show you today), is right below the “Going” tab. If you hover there a link that says “check availability” will appear. Click on the link and it shows what’s already on your Google Calendar the day of the event.
5. Everyone Invited to the Event Can Share Photos in One Place
I know there are such things as Flickr groups, and that Picasa has a sharing feature, but I like this because it puts everything in one place. When you are setting up your Event, make sure photo sharing is enabled by clicking on the “Actions” box at the top of the Event screen:
That way everyone can click on the red “Add Photos” button and share their pictures.
Why should you like this? Because it’s a great relationship building tool for live events. Let’s say you and your team are going to an event. It doesn’t have to be YOUR event. You can create an “Event” for some national conference you’re going to so that people will be reminded, and will have a place to get excited before the event.
When you return from a live event, there’s always a desire to keep in touch with the connections you’ve made. But life often gets in the way. Using Google+ Events gives you a place to come together after the event and share your photos (and stories). What better way is there to build relationships with team members and new connections?
But, Will it Work . . .
Of course for this to work, your people have to be on Google+. Unfortunately for some, this is still an issue. Hopefully, as people start to use “Events” to set up their events, this feature will provide one more reason to spend time on Google+.
I’d love to hear what you think. Will you use events? Do you think the fact that everyone isn’t on Google+ (like they are on Facebook) will doom any chance this great new feature might have for widespread success? Share with me in the comments below.