How Google+ Communities Benefit Business

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Google gave us a big group hug when they pulled Google+ Communities out of Santa’s sack this month.

With the roll out of Google+ Communities, Google’s given us places where we can go to discuss, share and discover more about the things we’re passionate about.

Google+ Circles now becomes the place where we go to engage more serendipitously.

(To learn how to manage Circles and Communities, check out John Blossom’s post: Balancing Act: When to use Circles Versus Communities?)

Google-Communities2

Benefits and strategies for Businesses using G+ Communities

Google+ Pages already has advantages over Facebook Pages when it comes to reach and features. An important one is that you don’t have to pay to have your content viewed by followers you worked so hard to attract. (see my post: Google+ Gets It For Business)

Google+ Communities allows a business to be super focused in targeting and managing current and prospective clientele and allows brands to engage in other communities thereby increasing its reach (if moderator permits).

G+ Communities are formed around specific topics, so create or join a community that is relevant to your product or service. For example, let’s say you’re a B2B business selling Italian granite to the housing industry. There are many people interested in kitchen renovations and granite counters.
Find a Community around that topic and share your expertise by answering questions and publishing videos and hangouts about where the granite comes from, how it’s extracted, colour variations etc..

Check out examples of how some merchants are taking advantage of G+ Communities.

Warning – Don’t be spammy. Google is very sensitive and flags anything that might appear to be spam.
Behave like a person and not a brand.

What does Google+ Communities have that Facebook Groups doesn’t?

The fundamental thing to remember about using Google+ for any reason is the SEO advantages.

Why spend your resources on a Facebook Group page when Facebook has no public search engine, all of your content being confined within its forums?

Google+ Communities, on the other hand enables…

  1. Anyone to find both the Community itself and publicly posted content in the community in Google search results.
  1. You to filter topics or discussions by topic or categories.
  1. You optimum image size and resolution plus gives you decent editing features  (No wonder photographers love Google+)
  1. You to access Google+ Hangouts which can be scheduled by event and run from within a Google+ Community, with Hangout invitations sent to all members automatically.
  1. Community members to post to their communities from anywhere on the web via the +1 share button
  1. Community members to share files from inside and outside the community through Google Drive – including folders displayed as self hosting web site: Announcing Google Drive Site Publishing.
  1. You to hold events inside the Community which are fully integrated with Google Calendar. Among the updates released recently, you can now send messages to specific guests and see who has opened your invitation. And, to save time, duplicate the original and Google will fill in the important details.

Google-Communities2

Google+ Communities: The Basics:

Clouds full of data has been published about G+ Community Pages this week so I’ll just include the “what you need to know” here:

There are four types of Communities: (from Create a Google+ Community)

1. Public (1)    (searchable)

  • Anyone can join.
  • Anyone can find and see member’s posts (Think of them as “interest “circles)
  • Publicly searchable

Best for: Meeting people on Google+ who share your interests.
Examples: photography, particular product line, current trends

2. Public  (2)   (searchable)

  • Anyone can request to join.
  • Moderator must approve.
  • Anyone can find and see member’s posts. (Access is public but creation limited by moderator)
  • Publicly searchable

Best for: Sharing content publicly, but limiting who can create it.
Examples: local businesses, social media consulting, non-profits

3. Private (1) (searchable)

  • Anyone can request to join
  • Moderators must approve.
  • Only members can other members and posts
  • Publicly searchable

Best For: Creating closed communities for specific public organisations.
Examples: specific product issues, trends

4. Private (2) (hidden)

  • Invitation only
  • Only members can other members and posts
  • Not shown in search results

Best for: Small groups to have more private conversations.
Examples: Employees, stakeholders, customers, event planning, focus groups

Tips for a successful community (from Managing a Google+ Community)

Do:

  • Promote your community as a place where people can have conversations and share ideas
  • Participate in conversations by posting, leaving comments and +1′ing posts
  • Celebrate and engage with your members
  • Add moderators and invite them to manage content and share regularly
  • Add categories to help guide discussions
  • Listen to and learn from your community’s members

Don’t:

  • Just broadcast information
  • Only pose broad questions in the hopes of discussion and engagement
  • Invite people to join an empty community — write an initial post to set expectations and welcome new members
  • Leave your community unmoderated — check in on your community daily to make sure that the right kinds of conversations are happening.

For a good discussion about G+ Communities, check out this Hangout with Jesse Wojdylo of Google and Ronnie Bincer, one of my Google+ Hangout specialist.

Google  Communities  What we know after 1 week  part 3    YouTube   

How can you imagine using Google+ Communities for your business?


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Ray Hiltz
Ray Hiltz is a Social Media Strategist with management roots in restaurant, hotel and performing arts. He's a believer in the power of collaborative communication and "humanized" digital networking. Ray writes about social media, social business and Google Plus on his blog: NewRayCom.com. His clients include hotels, restaurants, consulting firms, entrepreneurs, writers and freelancers. Ray is a popular speaker on Social Media, Social Business and Google+.
Ray Hiltz

@newraycom

Social Strategist. Tweet recipe; mix generous portions social media & Google Plus into marketing batter. Cover w/ personal observations & bake. Share when done.
Show Me Your Human Side (In Business) http://t.co/6EhC8cVSGA via @SteamFeedcom - 6 hours ago
Ray Hiltz
Ray Hiltz
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Comments

  1. CarrieJKeenan says:

    Great post Ray!
    Now that I've been using G+ more, I am quite excited for the Communities feature. I have already seen migration of some associations migrate from FB groups over here. I'm looking forward to using them more in 2013!

    • Thanks, Carrie.
      It's still a bit of the wild west as people create and join communities without much thought, but I think it will be big in 2013 and draw a lot a businesses over to G+.

  2. Great read Ray and very helpful with insight. The G+ (and Google) anti’s need to take another look at this product. As Carrie say’s, I to have seen a migration begun for this platform. I have found my go-to for guidance … GoodJob!

  3. Nice point and you pointed out the advantages of using Google+ communities over FB pages very well. Now I need to start using it :)

    • Thanks, Abdullah.
      Hope to see you over there. There's all kinds of great people who are very keen to help people find their way around.

  4. I have enjoyed using google + just for the fresh content and now the communities but I still have not been able to increase business traffic to email or website? Any ideas I am more than willing for some criticism! Thank you,
    Ian Fox (FOX Fitness Repair)

    • I have just one quick suggestion, Ian. (Ok, maybe two)
      Open a Google+ Business Page. Seems a lot of your posts on your profile page is about your business.
      Then post personal posts on your profile, join communities & search out people in your industry and people who would be interested in it.
      On your business Page, post helpful posts, tips and videos with links to your page. Again, join communities where you can share your expertise.
      Hope this helps.

  5. Google Plus Communities are a great place to interact with others who you share common interests with. It enables you to meet new people as well as have the possibility of driving more traffic to your own social media pages.

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  1. [...] Launched in December 2012, Google wants to make a step forward with its Google+ network. Google+ communities are formed around specific topics where people join or create a community that is “relevant to a product or service” as Ray Hitz said in his blog post. [...]

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