GOOGLE TOOLS FOR REALTORS SERIES
In this Google Tools for Realtors Series, we will cover, review and provide how-to tips and strategies for Google's suite of productivity tools including such tools as:
- Google Calendar
- Google Alerts
- Google Wave
- Google Documents
- Google Maps
- Google Earth
- Google Local Business Center
- Google Adwords / G-Mail Ads
- Google Blogger
- Google Analytics
- Google Groups
- Google Sites
- Google Talk
- Google Voice
- Google Search
- Google Toolbar
In the third installment of the Google Tools for Realtors Series, we will take a look at how Realtors can effectively use Google Wave in their real estate practice including such topics as:
- What is Google Wave
- Google Wave 101 - Terminology
- Google Wave 102 - Basic Features
- Suggested Uses for Google Wave
- Google Wave Tools
WHAT IS GOOGLE WAVE?
Google Wave is currently available by invitation only. It is an interesting tool for communication, collaboration and the transfer and sharing of media. It is a hybrid product that looks and feels like e-mail, text messaging, forum threads, wikis, social media and more. However, the best may be yet to come. Google Wave is built on an open source platform which means that there will be competing products and a large amount of extensions/tools/applications built around this new platform.
GOOGLE WAVE 101 - TERMINOLOGY
What is a "wave"? A "wave" can best be described as a hybrid between conversation and document. People can communicate and work together with text, photos, videos, maps and more. A "wave" is shared. meaning that any invited participant can reply anywhere in the message, edit the content and add participants at any point in the process. The playback feature creates accountability and lets anyone rewind the wave to see who contributed what and when. A wave is live. As a live document, can have faster conversations, see edits and interact in real-time.
GOOGLE WAVE 102 - BASIC FEATURES
Google Wave has some interesting features as a communication and collaboration tool. Here are some of the highlights:
- SPLIT CONVERSATION INTO THREADS: E-mails are static and linear. That is, you send an e-mail. You then receive a reply. When you are "replying" to a wave (e.g. message), you can reply in the message itself creating a thread within the message or after the message similar to e-mail. For example, someone sends an agenda. Instead of replying at the end, you can actually interlineate your comments within the agenda itself. The arrows below show where new threads can be inserted. It is similar to when you include the original e-mail and interlineate in the original e-mail questions, comments or responses.
- INSTANTANEOUS/SIMULTANEOUS CONVERSATIONS: Communication via Google Wave is in real-time. Althought it looks and feels like e-mail in some respects, it is more like text messaging. Two or more people can reply to the wave at the same time. The communication is live and can change even as your are reading the screen.
- HIDE REPLIES: When the "wave" or replies generated by the "wave" are done, you can hide and/or delete replies to clean-up the conversation. You can also copy the completed "wave" into a new wave.
- INVITE OTHERS TO THE COMMUNICATION: Communication via Google Wave can be 1-on-1 or you can invite a group to participate. Even after the conversation has started, you can add additional parties to the conversation. For example, the comments drift into another person's area of expertise or responsibility. You can add the additional person to the conversation by simply clicking a button or by dragging and dropping from the contact section of the Google Wave platform.
- PLAYBACK FEATURE: Since you can add a person at any time, the new participant can replay the entire communication sequence by sequence from the creation of the wave through each contribution. You can see who wrote or added what and when. Here is a simple example showing the progression . There was an initial wave containing an invitation to speak. The second action was to add Don Rogers as a participant. The third action was Don Rogers' acceptance of the invitation.
- PRIVATE REPLIES: Within a "wave", you can reply to the wave which is visible to all participants or can reply privately to one or more participants. When you reply privately, the reply only appears on the "wave" of the parties to the private reply and not on the "wave" viewed by all participants.
- DRAG & DROP FEATURE: You can drag and drop other waves, photos, videos, links etc. into the wave.
- ATTACHMENTS: You can add attachments with a click of a button.
- DOWNLOAD IMAGES: For photo sharing, Google Wave permits each participant to add photos, edit titles, and download all of the photos. It is a nice and easy way to share photos. You no longer have to worry about e-mails being hung up or bounced back due to the size or resolution of the photos.
- GOOGLE SEARCH FEATURE: You can search within the Wave using Google and ad links. Click on G+ icon. Enter search terms. Add to wave. Here is an example including a resource link into the invite to Don Rogers.
- SMART FEATURES: Google Wave has a series of built-in smart features. For example, you include a video link in the wave. It shows a light bulb. By clicking on the light bulb, you will then be given options such as show the video as a link or embed.
- LIVE CONCURRENT ONLINE EDITING: Google Wave allows users to edit each others messages, contents and even replies. This allows for online editing and collaboration.
- GADGETS: You can use Google Wave's gadgets or import gadgets into your wave. Here are a few examples:
- You can insert a Yes/No/Maybe feature for approvals, RSVPs, votes, etc.
- You can insert a map. You can place pins for locations and can draw on the map.
SUGGESTED USES FOR GOOGLE WAVE
Google Wave has great potential. However, converting the potential to actual use will require an expansion in the number of users, the addition of more extensions or applications and a learning curve as users adopt this tool for communication and collaboration. Here are just a few anticipated uses:
- SINGLE COMMUNICATION: Consolidate information into a single living document. Use with customers to define housing criteria, map tours, transmit and store documents, provide instructions, review closing documents and more. Instead of searching through dozens of e-mails, you have a single communication thread which can be accessed by all members of your team - agent, transaction coordinator and clients.
- TEAM COLLABORATION/EDITING: For teams, groups and organizations, you can take a single document and allow multiple parties to collaborate on a project in real-time. You can draft content, discuss items and solicit feedback all in one place. It eliminates the need for creating multiple copies that get out of sync. For example in the context of an organization, you could set a meeting and outline the agenda. Each participant could then add additional information, action items or documents to the agenda such as place, map to location, parking instructions, documents to be reviewed prior to the meeting and more. After the meeting, meeting notes or action items can be added and tasks disseminated to others.
- SHARE PHOTOS: Instead of e-mail photos back and forth, each participant can upload and share the photos. Each participant can then download all of the photos. You can create a photo album easily online.
- BRAINSTORMING: You can present an idea, concept or problem to a group. You can use Google Wave to brainstorm ideas. You can add rich content like video, images, URLs, etc. to provide examples or to clarify ideas and concepts. Google Wave can be used a virtual white board.
GOOGLE WAVE TOOLS
Google Wave has great potential as a collaboration tool and as a communication tool. However, the gadgets and applications developed using the platform offer an interesting glimpse as its possible use as an integration tool. Although Google previewed a number of extensions, gadgets and applications (see video below), the most intriguing use of Google Wave is the ability to embed a wave in your website or blog. After a wave is embedded, people can communicate with you in real time within the embedded in a blog - but directly to you via the Google Wave. That is, a post could be included in a wave and posted on multiple sites. The replies or comments received would then be aggregated. This tool would give you a single access point to engage others in discussions. Here is an example from Google using their Bloggy prototype application showing a wave and then the embedded wave in a blog post:
INTERESTED IN LEARNING MORE ABOUT HOW TO USE GOOGLE TOOLS IN THE MARKETING AND SALE OF REAL ESTATE? Contact Ryan Shaughnessy at 314-971-4381 or send an e-mail to Ryan@PREASignatureRealty.com.