Monday, July 11, 2011

Google+: Shiny and New... but the Same

Another social network hit the scene last week: Google+. So what? New social media tools pop up all over the web all the time, so why is this one any different? Well, for starters, it's from Google. You may have heard of 'em... ya know, the #1 website in the world, the top blogging platform (Blogger, which is itself the #5 site in the world), and one of the top webmail services (Gmail). For that reason alone, it will make a splash. But what do employers need to know?

Dan Schwartz seems to think: not much... yet. I tend to agree with him, there's nothing specific to Google+ that calls out for attention. But, it is important to understand social media generally - that doesn't mean hopping on every single network and revolutionizing your HR practices every time there's a new site. Ultimately, there are two key aspects of social media and social networking tools that employers should understand: 1. they facilitate connections to other people (friends, audiences, people with shared interests, etc.); and 2. they facilitate self-publication and sharing of information.

This opens up a host of important issues... enough to write a book (insert shameless self-promotion of upcoming book, HR and Social Media: Practical and Legal Guidance, featuring a chapter by yours truly). Despite some cool  tools, Google+ is just more of the same... connecting with people and sharing content. Nothing that requires specific attention, yet. There's no reason to think Google+ posts will be any more or less discoverable than Facebook posts. The next Anthony Weiner incident could easily happen on Google+... in fact, the new video "Hangouts" feature is just screaming for a Weiner-esque... errr "hangout." But employers should already have policies in place that address these already-existing social media issues. So, aside from staying hip and knowing the "big players," Google+ hasn't shown anything that warrants specific attention yet.

Note: Yes, I'm on Google+: http://profiles.google.com/miles.phil. Also, the co-authors of HR and Social Media: Practical and Legal Guidance (including me) are appearing on an upcoming installment of The Proactive Employer podcast to discuss Social Media and HR (what else?).

Posted by Philip Miles, an attorney with McQuaide Blasko in State College, Pennsylvania in the firm's civil litigation and labor and employment law practice groups.