<!–:st–>Another social media front opens for small business.<!–st:–>
The social network was previously restricted to consumers using Gmail accounts.
Google+ has been described as a combination of Twitter and Facebook and the service had reached 40 million users within several months of its launch.
One of Google+’s innovations was its introduction of “circles” of contacts, which could be grouped as friends, family, work, and so on. A Google+ user can share pictures, websites and messages with a select group of people by choosing the appropriate circle.
Google Apps automatically added a circle that included all users within the Google Apps account.
Another feature is Hangouts, a multi-user video conferencing tool that includes screen sharing and collaboration in google Docs. Hangouts “lets you work together on projects even when your team can’t be in the same room”, Google said.
Google+ was to be added to all Google Apps accounts “over the next several days”, Google said. A Google Apps administrator could manually turn on Google+ within the Google Apps dashboard if the service wasn’t automatically available.
Google Apps users had access to the same set of features as consumer users on Gmail.
<!–:ct–>Read “Why Google Apps users shouldn’t rush to join Google+” for BoxFreeIT’s opinion on using Google+.<!–ct:–> Google advises businesses to consider several points before adding access to Google+ from Google Apps accounts.
One of the most concerning from an information security perspective was that Google+ made it easy for employees to share information with people outside the business. The information included text messages, photos and videos.
Another potential time-waster was games. Google+ has a “games room” with poker and other card games and popular blockbuster titles like Civilization.
Another technical consideration is that a Google Apps administrator must have already enabled Picasa Web Albums and Google Talk before enabling Google+ which uses these services to distribute photos and text messages.
If these services were not enabled first then Google+ would not automatically become available, even for Google Apps accounts that had selected to automatically enable new services.
Google said it was releasing a migration tool for Google Apps users who had already set up Google+ accounts using a personal Gmail account. The tool would be ready in “a couple of weeks” and in the meantime Google Apps users could create a second work account and merge all contacts at a later date.