Google promoted Google+ to a core Google Apps service, which means that it is here to stay for Google Apps for Work customers. Here's what you need to know.
Google recently promoted Google+ from an "additional Google service" to a "core service" for Google Apps for Work customers. Google+ joins the seven other core services that make up the Google Apps suite of tools: Calendar, Contacts, Drive, Gmail, Google Talk/Hangouts, Groups for Business, and Sites.
This means that you'll soon be able to see the status of Google+, along with the other core services, at https://www.google.com/appsstatus. The list shows the status of individual apps, such as Gmail, Docs, Sheets, and Slides, as well as the optional add-on data retention service, Vault.
The promotion of Google+ to a core service also means that your Google Apps administrator can seek support for Google+ from Google. An administrator can email or call—and talk directly to someone at Google—to get help with any questions about the service. Only core services are supported this way.
The transition requires Google for Work customers to move to the new Google+, which refocuses Google+ around Communities, Collections, and People. Communities help you organize people into groups, while Collections help you organize posts. You might create a Google+ Community for your project team, and create a Collection to share a set of posts related to a topic.
SEE: Best practices for using social media in business (Tech Pro Research)
You'll still be able to put people into circles, which helps you filter communications, so you see information only from people in that circle. For example, select a circle on Google+ to see posts only from people in that circle, or in Gmail to see email only from people in that circle. When used this way, circles on Google+ help you manage team communications.
If you're a Google Apps Administrator, you might review the default settings for Google+ posts. New posts to Google+ can be either restricted, which means they can't be shared outside the organization, or unrestricted, which means they can be viewed publicly. Many organizations will likely prefer a default of "restricted," so that new posts are private by default and a person must choose to make a new post public.
An Administrator might also review the settings for profile discoverability, creation, and editing. Profile discoverability determines whether a person's profile can be found in Google+ search results. Profile creation determines whether a Google+ profile will be created when you add a new user. (If you intend to use Google+ for work, you probably want this enabled.) And, if checked, the "edit name" option allows people to change their Google+ profile name.
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The new Google+ removes a few features from the older Google+ app, such as Events, Hangouts chats, and Hangouts on Air. However, similar features may be found elsewhere. Try the Hangouts apps on mobile devices, https://hangouts.google.com on the web, or the Hangouts app in Chrome; and explore YouTube Live to stream events. Google provides a detailed Google+ Transition Guide for administrators. (Note: While the feature changes also apply to Google Apps for Education customers, "Google+ will not be treated as a core service" in those environments according to the transition guide.)
And, in case there was any remaining doubt that Google sees Google+ as an enterprise social network, take a look at the Google Apps for Work promotional page for Google+. Google calls Google+ "a social network designed for business" and highlights how Google+ supports communications among employees and customers.
The addition of Google+ as a core service of Google Apps for Work makes a lot of sense to me. Unlike most enterprise social network tools, it was built from the beginning to be user-friendly for a consumer market. It makes sense that Google would refine the tool and integrate it into the Google Apps for Work ecosystem.
What do you think?
If your company uses Google Apps for Work, how do you use Google+? When Google+ becomes a core service of Google Apps for Work, how will your use of Google+ change? Tell us in the comments.
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