#bikeschool: To G+ or not to G+



For some time now we’ve been asking you guys what improvements you want to see from #bikeschool and thinking about how we can take LovingTheBike.com and #bikeschool to the next level.

With the introduction of Google+ Pages last week, we decided to jump on board and set one up.  Yeah, we sort of felt like G+ Pioneers.  But now what?  Do we use it as a means of advertising for our weekly Thursday night class session?  Do we pretend G+ never happened and continue with #bikeschool as Twitter based and promoted only?  Do we take advantage of Google’s “Hangout” technology and offer a secondary form of #bikeschool that would add in another dimension to everyone’s favorite hour on social media?

First of all, #bikeschool on Twitter is not going anywhere….it will always be there.

It is, and always will be #bikeschool in the truest sense of the word.  But what about adding a G+ Spin-off that will be in addition to our legendary Twitter version?  We’re here to ask for your thoughts and provide some information on all things social media.

What G+ Offers:

The arrival of Google+ did not start off with as a positive reception as the Google geeks would have liked, they had game-changing alternates on the bench. I’ve been using G+ for a few weeks now and although it is taking a bit of getting used to that’s mainly down to learning the layout of the site and working out the limitations of it are. The ability to interact with friends, the whole timeline (or ‘public’) and to create small groups around a shared interest reflect what is possible on Twitter or Facebook, just in a different way. To be honest, if G+ got the number of users that Twitter does, with its increased usability due to not being restricted to 140 characters I could see it being a much more useful media tool all round. Like Facebook for grown-ups!

And there is the rub. At the moment I feel like it is an ‘either/or’ kinda deal. I’ve found myself trying to recreate my Twitter following lists on G+ which would enable me to interact with those people in a greater way. But then I slap myself and realise that these beasts can never be fully tamed to live in the same house. Twitter has its place and beautiful uses and so will G+ (Facebook is mainly used for uploading and viewing drunken photos right!?).

For me, Twitter is perfect for the #bikeschool class, getting LIVE cycle race updates and has created some of the funniest, smartest cycling pundits on the internet (@inrng, @Cycleboredom, @UCI_Overlord, @Cyclocosm, @Cyclismas to name but a few) but it’s character limitations mean I’m often left with a squillion Firefox tabs open reading stuff and watching videos. G+ gives you the ability to have more indepth conversations and discussions with others, as well as being able to upload drunken photos of yourselves!

As usual, I’ve completely wandered of the subject so let’s get back to it…

G+ Hangouts:

Now that myself and ‘The Boss’ are using Google+ and we have a Loving the Bike and  #bikeschool page, we thought it would be the perfect oppotunity to up our game. For cyclists, Winter has always been a time to relax, plan next year’s goals and train hard for the delights of Spring and Summer. So this winter, (yes I’m writing this from the cold bit of the northern hemisphere so if you’re somewhere warm just be shush and enjoy it!) we’re going all experimental on yo ass!

One of the beautiful features of G+ is the new ‘Hangouts’ feature. We are in the early stages of testing for this to see if it will fulfill our needs but its already looking like a solid piece of kit. Essentially, a hangout is a video chat with other people via G+. If there is a hangout running on someones page with people chatting, you can jump right in and converse using you face, not just your words! Myself and few others have tried to do this with other programs with the intention of bringing something a little extra to #bikeschool but others such as Skype don’t quite cut the mustard when it comes to usability and video quality. I’m not going to try to explain all the possibilities of the ‘Hangout’ as I don’t know all of them but I’m working on that. Have a quick look at a great example of how to explain a product feature without giving you the slightest idea how you should use it to it’s fullest!


A Small Step For…

We haven’t decided what we should do with #bikeschool on G+ yet, but we’d like to hear your suggestions and comments.  Please leave those in the comments area below.  We’ll be back with an update on this in the very near future.

If you are on Google+ or would like to be, we invite you to do the following:

1. Head over to Google+ and sign up for an account if you haven’t got one already

2. Add the Loving the Bike and #bikeschool G+ accounts to one of your circles

3. We’ll likely be doing some testing, so when you see the invitation for a ‘Hangout’ with #bikeschool, join in and chat! Easy as that!



Enjoy Your Ride

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