<!–:st–>A potential security risk for the uninitiated. <!–st:–>
Businesses might be tempted to leap into Google+ as yet another front in the social media wave which must be adopted, branded and marketed to just like FaceBook and Twitter. After all, it has gone from nothing to 40 million users in a ridiculously short four months. Why would you want to miss out on all those potential customers?
However, it’s not as simple as that, for one good reason. Google+ is the first social network that is intimately connected to a business software platform in Google Apps. If your staff have only spent time socialising on FaceBook they may have different expectations about what they can say and do on Google+ despite the fact that it is linked to a work account.
The main risk is what the security guys like to call “data leakage”, or the posting of sensitive business information to unapproved recipients. Corporate espionage is one scenario but one much more likely would be unintended damage from an over-eager sharer who treats all social networks the same.
We are used to posting messages to FaceBook about where we are and who we are with during our own time. But when the receptionist sends out a status update about a high-profile customer walking into reception, is that something that your competitors or your customer’s competitors would like to know?
<!–:ct–>Read “Google+ social network now available for Google Apps users” for more details.<!–ct:–> Many Google Apps users will be able to start using Google+ immediately if their administrators have agreed to add new Google applications as soon as they become available. First you might want to come up with some company guidelines for using Google+ and the sorts of messages, photos and links that can be posted through it.
To be fair, Google has taken steps to ensure that it’s not a free-for-all. It doesn’t appear possible to share documents within Google Apps to Google+ contacts or circles. The option isn’t available in the Share button in Google Docs and the other apps.
Some other points to consider. A Google+ accounts can only be created with a person’s real name. There is little room for deniability if something offensive or defamatory is posted under an employee’s account.
Some businesses like to block FaceBook during work hours to avoid employees wasting time on social conversations. Google+, which includes a games platform, poses the same risk.
Here’s another solution. Google Apps administrators can control the applications to which individual employees have access. Allow the marketing manager to create a Google+ account linked to their Google Apps account and leave it at that for the first six months, then review.
Social networks are great for socialising in your own time. It may take us a little while to adjust our behaviour to one used for business as well as pleasure.