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Google+ continues to enhance its platform to allow greater engagement among users. The newest feature to launch is Google+ Communities. It now has a new and cleaner look with the posts on the home page displayed in two columns.
What are Google+ Communities
Basically, communities is a platform within Google+ wherein users can connect, much like a group works on LinkedIn or Facebook.
Watch this video from Google+ to see how Communities work:
When posting, members of the community can categorise their post (based on the categories set up by the Community owner) so that all community members can read and sort posts based on the content they are looking for.
Communities offer an opportunity to find like-minded people with which a member can share their interests, causes and passion. It is also through Communities where members can learn more information from and connect with the experts in their particular niche.
Benefits of a Google+ Community
Individuals, entrepreneurs and business organizations can all benefit from the functionality of the communities feature.
Be it connecting with people who might be interested in what you do to establish rapport to engaging with prospective clients and customers, as a business tool, Google+ Communities are a fabulous way to connect.
Not only that, a Google+ Community can be used to organise an event, share photos, host hangouts for a face-to-face meeting or for more personalised engagement with other Google+ users.
Another great advantage of this platform is that users, especially business owners, have the ability to learn more about the behavior of their target audience and people who have the same interests as theirs.
Through their discussions, you can get an idea of what users are talking about, their challenges, interests or even perhaps predict trends and then use the information to guide you in creating new products and services.
Types of Google+ Communities (Open and Private)
There are four types of communities in place on Google+:
- Public – anyone can join and post
- Public – request to join
- Private (members only) – can be found in search
- Private (members only) – hidden from search
Totally public communities allow anybody to join while the second type of public platform requires approval from the moderator before anybody can join.
The private platform has also two types. The first one lets people find you via search and they can request to join. Only the members can see who are in the community and their comments and other posts.
The second private community type is not found through search and membership is by invitation only.
Think carefully about the type of Community you wish to create.
When creating your community, you need to decide carefully on the type of platform most suitable for your target market. Remember once you create your community type, you can not change to another type later, so carefully consider the community you wish to create.
Creating a Community
To set up your community, log into your Google+ account and look for Communities on the left column. Click on it to go to the next page.
On the Communities page, click the Create a Community button on the top right.
You will next be provided with two options – the public community and private community.
Choose public or private.
For example, if you want a private community, you will need to give it a name and decide if you want to be searched or not. Remember, you CANNOT change the type of Community once you’ve created it, so choose wisely.
Fill out the fields, then click Create Community when you’re done.
Once your community is created, it’s time to personalise it.
Upload a photo and include a tagline. Provide a description as well about your community in the About section. Here, include the purpose of your community and guidelines in posting information.
It’s also a good idea to create some discussion categories. These will help members find a specific topic they’re interested to get involved in.
Don’t forget to write the first post to welcome your members and get the ball rolling in discussing relevant topics.
Promote and Engage
As with all social media, to attract more members, promote your community through your various social media accounts and on your blog. You may also send emails to your list to inform them about it.
Finally, engage with your target audience as often as you feel appropriate. Post content you think will be of interest, comment on posts by members, +1 posts that you like and even create events or hangout with your members.
It’s fine to share information about your own business, but as always, in moderation and spamming is an absolute no no.
To help keep on top of Community management, you can invite members to be moderators to help you manage the community. Google+ allows you to upgrade any member to a moderator, giving that person access to delete posts and accept members into the Community.
What are your thoughts? Are you likely to create or join your own Community on Google+? Share your comments below.
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By Wendy Chamberlain
Copyright 2012 Savvy Web Women Pty Ltd
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Wendy Chamberlain is the founder of www.savvywebwomen.com and creator of the Savvy Online Engagement Blog – the information packed resource that shows business owners and entrepreneurs how to use online strategies to connect with key stakeholders, influence decision makers and be seen as a thought leader, all via the use of social media. To receive your FREE Special Report and how-to articles to expand your Online Engagement toolkit, visit www.wendymoore.net.