Monday, March 17, 2014

Five Powerfully Good Ways Public Transit Agencies Can Use Google+ to Grow Business

by Art Johnson - New World Communications

To date, although most national public transit agencies still have a “me-too” presence on older social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, they stand to gain significant front-running advantage, serving the public even better, by additionally using Google+ to grow their business.

What is Google+ anyway? Just calling it "another social network that few people are on" is both an understatement as well as blatantly untrue. Regardless of whether public transit agency people know it or not, Google+ has been rocketing forward as the fasting growing social platform on the planet. Already at more than 540 active users since it first launched in July of 2011, Google+ has been exponentially growing, at such a fast rate, already overtaking both Twitter, and LinkedIn, that now some analysts, "doing the math" and watching this trend more closely are now even predicting that Google+ will overtake Facebook by as early as February 2016.  
What’s the reason for such an ambitious prediction and why does it matter for public transit agency folks who for the most part are still just doing “me too” communications on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn? Once public transit agency people experience Google+’s unique virtual architecture first hand,  and get their heads around both the unique power and the potential good that Google+ can uniquely deliver, they too will understand and jump on the Google+ bandwagon...becoming front-runners themselves... ahead of later adopters sure to come.
Here are five powerfully good ways that public transit people and their agencies can significantly benefit, by using Google+ to grow their business:
1. Strategic planning and virtual focus groups - Nothing is more challenging to public transit agencies than getting public and private policy right by engaging with their stakeholders - Google+ and HangOuts, and YouTube allow you to do this, via group-based online “face-to-face” problem-solving sessions conducted with people locally, regionally, and across the planet.. even recording these sessions publicly or privately for later review and study...and the technology is free.
2. “Virtualizing” physical world meetings - It’s now possible for public agency people to “virtualize” physical world meetings, reaching and qualitatively engaging with people remotely, “face-to-face” and in real-time all the way into their homes., schools, offices, “face-to-face” even via their smartphones waiting at the bus stop or train station or even while riding. Google+ and YouTube are no-cost technologies, and all it takes are some low-cost technologies and smart application of it. Even non-technical users can fully participate as audience participants and even have a community voice at virtualized physical world meetings without being techno-enabled at all.
3. “Doing collaborative business e-meetings, “face-to-face” - Using Google+ HangOuts, and Google Drive  it’s now possible for small groups of people to meet “face-to-face” and work on the very same cloud-based documents, spreadsheets, and presentations together across their entire service areas...and then some...across the planet even doing major master planning across the nation... no-cost Google+ technology now makes this possible.  Think of the time and cost savings... This takes “tele-work” to a whole new phase and you can do it even while riding the train or bus! 4. Virtual Training Bootcamps - Once people are are fully “enabled” to easily meet and engage with each other over Google+ HangOuts and HangOuts On Air and know how to produce and share their YouTube videos. all-day virtual training bootcamps simultaneously held at key locations across a public transit service region are possible either as virtual only or as “virtualized” physical world events. Again, most of the technology is free, low-cost, or already being used by people walking around with it.
5. Virtual-only or “Virtualized” Conferences and Tradeshows - The merger of both low-end and high-end broadcast-quality webcast technologies now makes it possible to do full-blown multi-day conferences and tradeshows. Smart use of Google+, YouTube and other technologies will be the way to do this, allowing for more riders and public transit stakeholders to both participate in and profoundly influence regional, and national American public transit proceedings.

These are just five powerfully good ways that public transit agencies and the people they serve can benefit, using Google+ to grow their business... but you can be sure that there will be more way more forthcoming and we intend to write home about it.

Art Johnson - Art Johnson, is a 21st century communications and learning architect with his own Seattle area-based consulting firm New World Communications. He has worked closely with public transit front-runners over several years -