Higher education’s social media pros aren’t sure how students are using Google+, or how many alumni have signed on to the social network. Even so, universities lured by Google’s massive audience are creating official campus pages.
A handful of notable universities joined Google+ Nov. 7 after Google officials announced that schools, businesses, and organizations can make their own pages.
The social site, which features “circles” that make it easy to pick and choose which online friends you can share certain items with, and “sparks” that provide links to related photos and articles on a topic, had only allowed people to create accounts since its July unveiling.
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Stanford University, the University of California (UC) Berkeley, the University of Oregon, Rice University, and American University were among the first schools to launch official Google+ pages in the hours after the search giant’s announcement.
Stanford has the early lead in Google+ followers among major universities, drawing in more than 1,000 in its first day on the site.
Campus officials charged with increasing the institution’s social media presence said students, faculty members, and alums haven’t flocked to Google’s social network since the summer, but establishing an official page could pay off if Google+ catches on.
“Like a lot of people, we’re still waiting to see how it will evolve, but we want to be on the ground floor so we can be part of how it goes forward and how it grows,” said Zack Barnett, director of web communications at Oregon, which has 60 Google+ followers. “There will be some hiccups right now because no one has quite figured out how to use Google+ … and Facebook still has such a huge market share. We’re still waiting to see how to measure the investment of our time in Google+.”