+The White House joined Google+ this morning. The addition of this official government account can be reasonably described as a tipping point for the platform. This will free other federal agencies to join, if we assume that the terms and conditions that +The White House and Google lawyers worked out are transferable.
Kori Schulman, deputy director of outreach for the White House’s Office of Digital Strategy, offered some context for why the White House joined Google+ at the WhiteHouse.gov blog:
tarting today, we’re excited to announce that you can follow the White House on Google+. On day one, President Obama made clear that this Administration is committed to public engagement and participation. That’s why we launched the We the People petitioning tool and why you can find the White House on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other places around the web. These are just some of the ways that we aim to engage with Americans on the issues that matter the most — and now, we’re pleased to add Google+ to this list.
The opening update on Plus, below, also shows that Hangouts remain the “killer app” of this platform, particularly since the same video can be shared on WhiteHouse.gov, meaning that the American people don’t have to sign up for Google+ to watch. Citizens will need accounts to participate, however, just as with Facebook and Twitter, so look for both criticism of the move and a potential surge of interest from new and established users.
“Welcome to the White House on Google+! Here you’ll find news from the blog, behind-the-scenes photos and videos, plus chances to engage with administration officials. One feature we’re really excited about are Hangouts. On our Google+ page, we’ll host regular White House Hangouts with administration officials on topics ranging from the economy to technology. Some Google+ users will be invited to join the Hangout with the White House and have a conversation with policy experts. But the best part is that even if you’re not “in” the Hangout, you can watch the whole thing live on WhiteHouse.gov, on our Google+ page or on the White House YouTube channel.
To kick things off, we want to hear from you about our new page. What else would you like to see from the White House on Google+? Have a great idea for a White House Hangout or thoughts on the types of updates that are most interesting? Let us know. We look forward to hearing from you.”
Notably, the White House chose to start its presence on Plus with a question: “What else would you like to see from the White House on Google+?”
For my part, the answer is simple: to show that they’re listening and that the voices of the people matter in policy.