The Who, What, Where, When, How?
Google announced on several news outlets on 7-December-2012 that the Google+ team had rolled out Google+ Communities to its social networking platform, allowing users to create and join private and public communities on Google+ based on specific topics and interests such as food, sports and local events.
See the announcement on The Office Google Blog: Google+ Communities and Photos, on Mashable: Google+ Adds Communities to Talk About Food, Football and More and the official promotional video on YouTube: Google+ Communities: A place for whatever you’re into, announcing and promoting the introduction of Communities on Google+.
Google+ Communities Introduction and Promotion Video
LinkedIn and Facebook have had the concept of groups for several years now so to say that the concept of implementing communities within a social network is groundbreaking would be untrue. That said, there is a huge potential for Google plus communities to drive engagement and time on site by bringing together Google+ users with like interests.
Google+ Communities – Overview
Google+ Communities are places for like minded individuals to come together around a specific subject matter. There are a few use cases for these communities that might be of particular interest to Internet marketers:
- Setting up public or private communities where membership can support or discuss a particular topic such as motorcycles, mountain biking or brewing beer or perhaps professional topics such as Internet marketing.
- Finding conversations about topics of interest so Google+ users can participate in the discussion, for instance, what are some techniques that small businesses are using to promote their businesses online.
- Starting Google+ Hangouts and planning events on Google+ with community members.
- Sharing interesting, relevant content encountered online with community by simply using the Google+1 buttons that now adorne much of the high quality content online.
So What Does that Mean for Marketing a Business Online?
Like so many good marketers, especially Internet marketers, Google+ Communities sound interesting, but so what? Let’s look at a practical example. Let’s say you own or do marketing for a local home remodeling business. That just happens to specialize in painting and remodeling . It might behoove you to network with homeowners and realtors that are really interest in painting and remodeling as they a good interest based prospect and probably much more likely to become a customer.
Just like you’d do some digital networking on using Facebook, LinkedIn groups, and maybe special interest/niche online forums, it makes sense that like minded, interested Google+ users would seek out Communities where these people hang out and since we are very much in the Google+ “land rush” perhaps create one yourself! Here’s how to create a Google+ Community.
Creating a Google+ Community
- Whether the community will be public or private
- What the community will be called
Figure 2 – Google+ Community kind (public vs. private) and name
After making a selection of public or private Community type, provide a community name and select permissions settings. As an Internet marketing group, by way of example, I have selected that nobody should need permission to join option, because as an Internet marketer, it my desire is to grow the community and remove barriers to community membership in an effort to maximize community reach.
Figure 3 – Google+ Community Creation Confirmation
Now it’s time to customize your community to make it your own buy:
- Write a tag line
- Add a community profile photo
- Compete your about section
The about section can be a great opportunity to add community guidelines including what types of discussions are allowed and as important, what are not. Once you hit Save then Done Editing buttons on this screen, you’ll be prompted to invite people to join your new community.
Figure 4 – Google+ Invite People to Join Your Community
As you can see, you can invite people via names, Circles, or email addresses. Once you hit the Send button, you have now successfully created your Google+ Community.
Figure 5 – Google+ Internet Marketing Community
Now that you have created your Google+ Community, the next value add is to join communities of like minded people who are active on Google+.
Google+ Communities – Search and Discover
To do this, click on the Communities icon in the left navigation ribbon and then see suggested Communities or search by keyword in the Community search box.
Figure 6 – Google+ Discovery – Search for Communities of Interest
From a marketers standpoint, it makes sense to join communities whose members look most like prospects and future customers. From a personal enrichment standpoint, search for and join communities that are comprised of members with passions similar to yours.
Shameless Plug – Join the Internet marketing community – https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/104657055436950119218 – I know, the next question that comes to mind is when will Google+ create vanity URLs for communities. If anyone knows something about this, leave a comment on the when/how.
Google+ Communities – Just Do It!
There is no better way to learn that by doing, and like many other things Google, there is an advantage realized over time by early adopters, so like the Nike slogan goes, Just Do It!
Additional Google+ Communities Resources
- Google Communities – Learn More
- Computerworld – What is so great about Google+ Communities
- ZDNet – Google+ Communities Arrive
- PC World – Google+ Expands with a Communities Section
- eWeek – Google+ Introduces Online Communities to Bring People Together