Google+ Communities: What You Need to Know
Last Thursday, the 6th of December, Vic Gundotra announced Google’s latest attempt at toppling Facebook/Twitter to sit atop of the social media macrocosm, Google+ Communities. The introduction of this LinkedIn/Facebook Groups amalgamation will allow Google+ users to join or create social groups, public or private, which allow them to interact with their peers and like-minded folk in their chosen area(s). Whether it is sports, photography, gaming or pictures of cats, this new feature offers a permanent home to all niches. These groups are user-governed so to speak, with people given the role of moderators to help steady each community.
During this announcement, Vic Gundotra also mentioned how Google+, something which has been often maligned in the past for being a ghost town, is the “fastest growing network thingy ever”, boasting roughly 500 million users, with 135 million of those being active.
Businesses and brands certainly have the potential to gain from Google’s newest venture. It gives them another platform in which they can really interact with their target market/customers. Considering brand pages aren’t the most natural/personal, the ability to create conversation and discussion around niche topics in the brand’s field could allow a more personal, less commercial discussion. Creating a community around their niche and possibly establishing a real authority within that niche could certainly have some long-term benefits. Also, it’s possible to utilise this to communicate with fellow businesses, communities similar to your business and industry experts as well as organising events via hangouts and such.
“Google+ communities was a natural progression for Google and has really opened doors for thought leadership. Experts have niche communities to share their experiences and build their credibility within specialist subjects. If companies adopt early and start using communities effectively, they can harness the expertise of their staff and place key messages in front of a more targeted audience than ever before.”
Google+ certainly has quite an impact regarding search results, and considering Google are always trying to ensure a fluid interconnection throughout all of its services, there’s the possibility that Google will incorporate Communities into search results. With recent changes made in order to promote excellent content from experts in their respective field, Communities could be another way of finding who these are. Those who hold a real authoritative status within their industry and who create high quality content could really benefit from Communities. Not only this but it enables smaller, less influential users to gain a foothold within communities and start to really make their mark within their niche.
Joining a Community
Becoming part of a Google+ Community is very simple; click on the Communities tab on the left and you’ll be taken to a hub where you can create a community, manage your current ones and search for others.
When creating your page, after naming it, you’ll have 4 options for your group (choose very carefully, whatever you pick is your final option and is irreversible).
- Public: One being free to search for and join, the other requiring a moderator’s approval for you to join.
- Private: One being available to search for but must request to join, other being a hidden, invite-only affair. For both of the private options, all discussions are hidden from non-members.
After all of this, you’ll fill in the details of your community. You’ll be given a page where you’ll fill in the tagline, photo, description, location and a very handy feature, categories.
One thing that I’ve seen throughout the short time that Communities have been available, is that some people are essentially just using it as a link dump. They’ll join communities, ignoring the communal aspect of it all and offering nothing but perpetual self-promotion and spam. It’s down to the moderators in these groups where people are doing this to see them off. On a lighter note, I have noticed that some of the smaller niche-specific groups have really started to flourish and there has been some great interaction and collaboration already.
“I have set up this community so that fellow online marketeers can share their thoughts and experience with each other and hopefully encourage some collaboration. Feel free to share your own content and the content of others within the community but please ensure you post within the relevant discussion threads.”
It’s quite a fledgling group at the moment, but holds host to several excellent marketing/SEO folk, such as Josh Harcus, Gisele Navarro Mendez, Mark Traphagen, Shaad Hamid, etc. Feel free to check it out and send an invitation to join if you work within online marketing.