How to use Google for internal communication

A Tube strike is currently happening in London and where appropriate, many organisations have been giving their employees permission to work remotely rather than try and battle into the office.

Today I spotted a note from Google via LinkedIn, who have been using the strikes to remind people of the opportunities that exist to work remotely and the tools and services they offer.

Work has gone Google.

It got me thinking about how you can use Google for internal communication and I thought I’d share some thoughts with you based on my recent conversations with them.

Check out this video to see an overview of some of the tools offered by Google.

Using Google for internal communication

I know from my research into How Internal Comms Pros Use Social Media that 23% of IC pros use Google Plus, written as Google+, in their personal life, compared to 9.2% use in professional life (writing/managing on behalf of their organisation).

How are you using it? I tweeted I was writing this article and some comms pros have offered to share their stories, I’d love to hear yours. If you’re using Google for internal communication, do please get in touch.

Google Apps

Google Apps for business is a suite of online tools that help organisations and employees communicate and collaborate more effectively.

The list of available apps includes Gmail (email), Hangouts (video meetings), Documents, Drive (with up to 30GB cloud storage per user) and Calendar, plus you get access to them from anywhere, anytime, on any device.

I have used Google+ since 2011 and recommend it. The way I use it has changed over time and since using a lot more of the features, it’s become part of my social media diet.

Alongside my fellow Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) Social Media Panel @CIPRSM, members, we wrote two books using the collaborative techniques of Google+ and Google Docs: Share This: The Social Media Handbook for PR Professionals (Wiley, 2012) and Share This Too: More Social Media Solutions for PR Professionals (Wiley, 2013).

Being able to collaborate in real-time on documents, comment and have tight version control meant as a large group of people we were able to be super organised and keep track of progress in writing the books.

Google hangoutThe CIPR Social Media Panel operates solely using Google+ – it’s our own internal communication space.

We have a closed community that only the panel members can access and it’s where all of our discussions happen. It houses all of our documents via Google Docs, is the place we ask questions among the panel, plan meetings and keep in touch.

We meet face-to-face every six weeks, but when people are unable to attend in person, we have Hangouts.

If you’ve never used Hangouts before, they are like Skype/FaceTime – you can see each other via your computer face-to-face and have a conversation. Up to 15 people can join in.

The image on this page shows a day when I was home with my young daughter a month or so ago and was plugged into the CIPR Social Media panel meeting remotely thanks to Hangouts.

The people on the bottom row of the screen were all at home/work and the top of the screen is a large room at CIPR. There’s also a chat function on the far right of the screen.

Read more information about Hangouts.

What can you use Google for internally?
I recently met up with Lyndon Fraser, @lyndonfraser, Enterprise Account Manager at Google, to talk about all things internal communication.

googleI was like the proverbial kid in a sweet shop and enjoyed seeing inside their main London campus (I took the pic on this page from the top floor).

How Google is using Google+

Lyndon talked me through Google in the Enterprise space and gave me a sneaky peek at how they communicate internally.

In the same way organisations are using Yammer to connect, communicate, collaborate and share, Google is using Google+.

It was like talking with Jimmy Choo about shoe design (I imagine!) – I saw first-hand how they are making it work for their internal communication and I liked what I saw.

Sharing, tagging and signposting between people, sites and countries is a key functionality as it not only brings people together, it enables content to be used in a smart way.

I was struck by the number of images that were being used. I’ve written before about visual communication, and it struck me from looking at the screen that the most +1 (Google’s equivalent of “liking” on Facebook) activity was on images.

I asked Lyndon to share with me how companies are using ‘Google in the Enterprise’ and what possibilities there are.

He gave me a whole list:

  • CEO – delivery of ‘Town Hall’ style videos can be easily shared across a group
  • Mobile Device Management (MDM) – enable Bring Your Own Device policy or simply apply to whichever corporate mobile platform you select
  • Kiosk Devices (Chromebook or boxes) – able to setup and provide access to low-cost devices for employees in break rooms to access and contribute
  • Easy sharing of knowledge – from interesting articles to the latest AllThingsIC podcast! Being able to comment and +1 makes the experience engaging and fun for all. Engage the energy, creativity, and commitment of ALL employees
  • Search – as more is shared, employees have access to the power of Google’s search (built into all of our products) to quickly find what they are looking for
  • Share the excitement, share news stories such as big contract wins so harder to reach employees feel part of the business hearing it from their employer FIRST instead of through the trade press
  • Brand alignment / Cultural Transformation – communicate the exciting news that they’re partnering with Google to ensure access to the most innovative technology available today and in the future
  • Streamline existing business processes e.g build a really engaging Employee on-boarding experience with online video tutorials, collaborative docs, Hangouts with training team etc.

The list seems endless and I have to admit even though I’ve been using many of the functions for a number of years, I hadn’t realised the possibilities that exist.

You can find out more about Google Apps via this video:

Want to know what companies are doing and how they are using Google’s products?

Check out the following case studies for further information:

Abraham Harrison case study
Admiral Pest Control case study
Ageas Insurance case study
Ahold case study case study
Alta Planning and design case study
American Red Cross case study case study
Baird & Warner case study
BBVA case study
Belle and Rollo case study
Berkeley Lab case study
Boise state university case study
Boost News Media case study
Box case study
Brady Corp case study
Brown University case study
Capgemini case study
Cinram case study
City of LA case study
City of Wooster case study
Composites One case study
Cox Schepp case study
Crown Partners case study
Cully & Sully case study
Delta Hotels and Resorts case study
EAT case study and video 
Flight Centre video
Garden Fresh case study
Gold Medal Waters case study
Golf Town case study
Grape City case study
Great Books Foundation case study
GSA case study
Hamilton Beach case study
Hub City Media case study
Hudbay case study
Hunter Douglas case study
Imagination Group case study
Indoff case study
Indus Valley case study
IPSEN case study
ITV case study
Jargon case study
Jason’s Deli case study
JobFlo case study
Just Salad case study
Kansas Department case study
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines case study
Konica Minolta video
Lake Havasu case study
Leftclick case study
Lincoln Property Company case study
LXR case study
Mad Genius case study
Medialocate case study
Melrose Resources case study
Mortgage Choice Ltd case study
Motorola case study
MWV case study
New York University case study
Nexteer University case study
NOAA case study
Nimble Books case study
Oxygen Design Agency case study
Pharmacy Development Services case study
Pithy Little Wine Co case study
Porter Airlines case study
Pratt Industries case study
Premier Guitar case study
Premier Salons case study
Priceminister case study
Providence video
Prudential Preferred Properties case study
Quality Distribution case study
Ray White Group case study
Roberto Cavalli case study
Rock Kitchen Harris case study
Rockingham County NC case study
Roland case study
Rypple case study
Saaspoint case study
Salesforce case study
Schmacher case study
Sea Change video
Shaw Industries case study
SoCal Lacrosse case study
Specsavers case study
State of Wyoming case study case study
Sun Windows case study
Takami case study case study
The Erith Group case study
The Richmond Group case study
The Roche Group case study
The Standard Agency case study
Traffic Konzept & Film case study
Trinity Mirror Group case study
U.S Coast Guard Academy case study
U.S Holocaust Memorial Museum case study
USA Water Polo case study
UserTesting case study
Virgin America case study
WildBlue case study
XAOP case study
Z Gallerie case study

Thank you for stopping by, I look forward to hearing your thoughts and your stories of how you are using Google for internal communication.


Article update: April 2014

I spoke at Google’s Atmosphere event in London about employee social networking. Read my overview and watch my talk:

Further reading
Work has gone full circle via Google+ (published August 2011).
How to use Pinterest for internal communication

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