Google+ Communities allow you to collaborate with others on topics you’re passionate about.
And it’s a great opportunity for marketers to network, engage and build the businesses they support.
This article will reveal everything you need to know about Google+ Communities and how to leverage them for business.
What Is a Google+ Community?
A Google+ Community is a place to meet and engage with people on topics you’re interested in. If you had trouble finding engagement on Google+ in the past, it’s time to take a second look and check out active communities on topics you care about.
Watch this video from Google+ to see how communities work.
Not only will you find great discussions going on, but you’ll also meet great people who share your interests. And this will help build your relationships and expand your network.
You can create public communities and private communities. There are already thousands of communities forming—and you can find dozens of communities on almost every topic imaginable.
Here are just a few awesome communities dedicated to social media that you might find interesting:
Jen Reeves, Peter G. McDermott and Tom Rolfson moderate the Community Moderators group.
Benefits of Joining a Google+ Community for Business
Here are a few reasons to consider joining a Google+ Community:
1. Grow your own network by engaging with others on topics you care about.
If you’ve had trouble engaging in conversations and meeting others in Google+, you now have an easy way to find people who are passionate about the same topics you are by joining relevant communities.
Join a community, answer questions, post your thoughts and you’ll meet some interesting people and grow your network at the same time.
For example, I’m interested in connecting with others and sharing ideas about using LinkedIn, so I started the LinkedIn for Business community. Within 4 days, this community grew to 54 members and I’ve been learning and engaging with some great people.
The first post in the group continues to get engagement.
2. Discover your target market’s questions, challenges and interests.
Communities can be like a focus group for your business. Some communities already have thousands of members talking about topics they care about.
Join communities that impact your business and listen. What are members saying about the topic? What questions are asked? What ideas are discussed? All of this can help you understand your target market.
For example, the Running community has people sharing challenges and questions about running. Members ask for recommendations on shoes, gear and other advice. If your business helps athletes, this could be a great place to engage and learn more about your target market.
The Google+ Running community already has over 3,500 members and a lot of great engagement.
3. Gain insights for blog posts and product ideas.
As you discover communities where your target market is located, join them and listen in on what they are saying. Discover ideas for blog articles and even get ideas for products or services you can provide them.
4. Become a thought leader for your industry.
Communities allow you to start your own discussions and share content you care about. This means you can post articles that might interest your target audience.
This is a perfect opportunity to become a thought leader by answering questions and being helpful.
And if you’re really enjoying the community, ask the moderator if you could help moderate, too. This would help you stand out as a leader.
5. Drive relevant traffic to your website.
As you engage with others in the community, you’ll find opportunities to share a blog post or article from your website. However, don’t spam. Be helpful and thoughtful with the links you share.
Bills joined a Financial Literacy community that I’m building and posted info about how their site can help others save money (as that is a category in our community).
Companies need to be careful how they do this (so they don’t spam), but Bills posted this after a discussion on how to save 10% of a paycheck. They didn’t link to their site, just talked about their product and shared an image. This could help them drive relevant traffic to their site.
Bills responds to a post on how to save 10% of a paycheck and recommends their product without a link.
How to Find Google+ Communities for Your Business
Unfortunately, there isn’t a global directory of Google+ Communities at this time. To find public communities, you need to first log into Google+ and click on the Communities icon on the Google+ ribbon on the left.
Communities link on left-hand navigation ribbon in Google+.
When you first view your Communities section, you’ll find recommended communities on the left (based on communities people in your circles have joined). You’ll see any community invites on the right-hand side.
Each community graphic shows a profile picture of a member or page you circled at the bottom.
The Discover Communities section is your first peek at what people in your circles are doing in communities. And as you become active, you might start receiving other community invitations, so keep an eye on this page.
You can also search for communities by topic using the Community Search bar. Simply do a Google+ search for the topic you’re interested in and select Communities in the drop-down menu.
Ranking by which communities appear for each query is not known. Number of members, number of posts, keywords in title and connection to members might all play a factor.
Once you find a community that you want to join, simply go to that community page and click the Join Community button.
The Join Community button is located in the top right of the page.
Once you join a community, you’re able to start participating by commenting, writing posts and sharing links.
When you join a community, the notification settings should be off by default. This means you won’t get any notifications when updates occur. If you prefer to see all notifications, then simply click the bell icon (under the community graphic) to turn notifications on.
Notifications can easily be toggled on and off by clicking the bell.
Most of the time, you’ll want to leave notifications off to avoid getting inundated with notifications and/or emails from busy communities. But for small communities that are important to you, you might want to turn the alerts on so that you see every update.
Tip: Set up a filter in Gmail to route community notifications into specific folders to free up your inbox.
Some communities are closed due to spam and will require a moderator to accept you into the community. The benefits of private communities are that spam will happen a lot less (or none at all if you have diligent moderators).
Communities that are private don’t show anything to anyone unless they are accepted in.
As you join communities, your Communities page layout will change by showing all of the communities you’ve joined at the top.
There’s a red box notification that indicates the number of new posts of all new activities in communities. This appears over the community graphic.
The Community page makes it easy to see where discussions are happening at the moment simply by watching the discussion count in red boxes.
Tips for Finding Communities for Your Business:
Search for topics your target market is interested in.
Search using keywords important to your business.
Search for your competitor.
How to Start a Google+ Community
Creating a community is easy and you can easily create a Community page in less than 5 minutes. However, it always takes time to seed it with useful content and get the community going.
Before starting your first Google+ Community, here are some questions to ask:
What is the purpose of your community? You’ll need to write a few sentences in the About section.
Should you or your company’s Google+ page own the community? Whoever starts the group will be the official owner and moderator who can assign or remove other moderators. You can assign different owners and moderators at any time in Settings.
What kind of topics/categories do you want to feature in the sidebar? It’s a good idea to seed your community with content for each category. So have some blog posts or engaging content to feature in each category before promoting it.
Do you have an approved image that you can use for your community? Make sure you have an eye-catching photo or logo (250 x 250 pixels) ready to go.
Who will moderate your community? If you’re planning on having a public community, you should be aware of spammers and the importance of removing that content quickly. It helps to have more than one moderator watching the page and reviewing notifications.
What will be the rules of the community? Write some rules about what you expect and what type of content is not allowed.
Will this be a public or private community? If you want a private community, do you want it visible in search so that people can apply for membership or do you want the private community hidden? Or if you want a public community, do you want anyone to join and start contributing right away or does a moderator need to accept each member?
Once you know the answers to these questions, it’s time to create your first community.