#sbbuzz chat with Google Docs

This week we did things a little differently with the #sbbuzz chat. The first half of the discussion we carried on as usual – a summary will be posted shortly. But for the second half of the evening Jonathan Rochelle (@jrochelle), Product Manager from Google Docs joined us to discuss some of the ways small businesses can and are using the Google Docs products to run a business.

We had a great discussion and I have pulled a few of the more helpful tidbits from it below. I also posted the full conversation in a Google document for anyone interested in the entire exchange.

We started off by talking about helpful uses of Google Docs as a collaboration tools. @jrochelle mentioned that they see many folks using Docs for group sharing and collaboration tools. @bradfordshimp mentioned using Google Forms for sending out surveys. And @scoblitz mentioned using Google Sites for collaboration and internal documentation.

#sbbuzz Survey created using Google Forms

#sbbuzz Survey created using Google Forms

Google Sites was also mentioned as a “container tool” for organizing the various shared documents. During the session @jrochelle quickly developed an online #sbbuzz survey for participants. He shared it with me so that I could update it with a few new fields, view the live results myself and also post it on this site (please fill it out!). While I was hoping to embed it directly into this blog post, I got snagged by WordPress not allowing an embedded form for blogs hosted on their site. Still wanting to get the survey up and not satisfied with the rather minimalist design options available with the form alone, I decided to take Google Sites for a spin. I very easily designed up a web page and in 2 clicks inserted my new survey form. Looks pretty slick, huh?

Next I asked about content suggestions for more customer conversions. Smart responses on value of content, personal touch points, videos, and @gamerzombies mentioned a chat or forum. Quickly became clear to me, though, that I was steering the conversation into too broad a topic (hey, this was only my second Twitter interview), so we moved on to the next topic.

Now to the good stuff. We talked a bit about the ways you can use the data being collected in Google Docs and how easy it is to transfer the data. All information collected in Google Forms is saved in a spreadsheet format, so can easily be viewed, sorted and exported. @jrochelle mentioned that the “form data collection – to – data visualization loop is very popular. So you collect (for example) locations (cities) of your customers… then see it in real time on an interactive map”. He pointed us to http://sharingdocs.blogspot.com and http://docs.google.com/templates for examples of these types of tools. Probably the juiciest nugget of the evening was when he pointed us to the option for inserting these visualization gadgets into a form. He correctly admitted that the gadgets are hard to find within the application. You have to go to the spreadsheet view of the form then click to Insert > Gadget. You can add flow charts, graphs, a Gantt chart (do people still use that??), pie charts or bars of chocolate. Yummy.

We ended by trying to pry some inside scoop out of Jonathan (no luck) and then suggesting a few improvements we’d like to see:

  • @nrohrbach mentioned more with the website building.
  • @bradfordshimp mentioned sharing folders (not just documents).
  • @scoblitz would like an easier way to work with docs across multiple accounts
  • @RoyalSaltMedia mentioned adding Picassa to the Apps/Docs platform
  • @shashib mentioned sharing audio/video files internally through Google Docs before uploading (to YouTube, for example).

And the night ended with the witty @jrochelle‘s final butchering of @bradfordshimp‘s name when he called him @badboyshrimp. Laughter was heard throughout the internet as @mriggen rolled in hysterics on the floor.

Thanks to all who joined in the conversation and hope to see you back next week. Please share below ways that you are using Google Docs, Sites, Forms as collaboration or publicly interactive tools. We will all benefit from more knowledge.

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