The Google Data Center in Berkeley County organized the first annual Google Fest which brought together educators, small business owners and nonprofits to Trident Technical College. Even though I work for a government agency, I work with a lot of nonprofit organizations so it was great to go and learn about some of the products that can help nonprofits conduct their business more efficiently.
The morning consisted of some general sessions that were quite informative. Alex Abelin from Google spoke of the technological revolution and the creation of the digital marketplace over the past few years. He cited a statistic that 60 % of South Carolina businesses are not online. (I personally couldn’t believe it was that high.) The consumers are driving the marketplace with successes such as eBay, Amazon, Farmville and Youtube. Much of the growth lately has been in mobile commerce. 79% of consumers use their smartphone while shopping in brick-and-mortar stores to comparison shop for the best deal. Abelin stated that businesses should strive to have less disparity between the online price and the price offered in brick-and-mortar stores. I have to agree but it will be a challenge for retailers to keep up with Amazon and eBay.
One of the reasons I came to this conference was learn more about “the cloud” and what it meant for online storage. Enoch Moeller and Eric Wages gave a presentation about the future of the “Cloud.” They covered a brief history of computing, starting with when computers took up entire rooms to the present. I could see many eyes glaze over as he talked about mainframes and servers but I found it interesting. Businesses can use cloud storage to their advantage so they don’t have to spend the time and the money setting up their own storage and can focus more on running their business. There are many advantages to using cloud stage: , redundancy, access from anywhere, reduction of carbon footprint and ease of online collaboration. Business can turn a capital expenditure into an operational expenditure in their budgets. I personally use the new Google Drive for my personal and professional work. I think all in attendance were given food for thought about the possibilities of these online tools and storage.
Google Apps & Drive for Business:
Why Google Drive?
- files are everywhere
- Computers crash, easy to recreate from online backups.
- Sharing & collaboration
- Storage is expensive
The Google Apps suite consists of Google Drive (formerly Google Docs), Sites, Gmail, Groups, Calendar. Within Google Drive, you can create documents, spreadsheets and presentation and share them collaboratively. You can download an application to your computer and sync to any Google Drive and download the files locally to your computer.
Right now, there is a mobile app for Andriod devices for using Google Apps and an iOS app is in development, (Not soon enough!) The Google representative said the API would be released very soon.
AdWords for Nonprofits
AdWords is Google platform for creating online advertising through the Google search engine. Google has lots of options for organizations and business. Check out the AdWords Beginners’ Guide before setting up an account. The key to success with AdWords is creating ads that match keywords that your potential users/customers might use. They have a keyword generator but most people can probably do a better job creating their because they know their own organization.
Goolge Grants – Google offers grants of free advertising dollars to nonprofit organizations. The organization must have 501(c)(3) status as defined by the IRS. The ads created must also link to a relevant website. The awards can be up to $10,000 per month but the cost per click is limited to $1. Therefore, some keywords might not be available because they have a higher cost-per-click rate.
Google does have phone support for AdWords and they can be reached at 1-866-2GOOGLE (246-6459).
All in all, it was a good conference. I thought it was very well-planned. I am not sure I liked how the sessions were divided. I ended hearing the same thing in one of the small business sessions that I had heard in one of the nonprofit sessions. I would have liked more description for the breakout sessions so I could prioritize what to go to. I really hope that can repeat next year for those who could not attend this year.