When Google+ was launched in beta I was one of the first to sign up. An early adopter, the first on the band wagon, chasing the new and shiny. Google’s version of Facebook, it was worth checking out. And I’ve always secretly wondered if you are an avid Google product user if the Google God’s smile favorably down upon you. (probably not). Like any phase in my life it was short lived. My habits continued to endure and it wasn’t long before I was spending my time back on Facebook.
Logging in to Facebook first thing in the morning I stayed logged in all day long. I made multiple posts daily, engaged on demand, liked, shared commented and provided value. Also a metrics girl, I believe if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve upon it. And as chief cook and bottle washer for my small business, I don’t have time to waste. So I noticed… via Insights when the numbers started dwindling. Like… drastically dwindling and I knew it was time to reevaluate where I was spending my online marketing time.
Having stayed (mostly) current with G+ since building my Google + 101 Guide (which continues to be my most viewed presentation on Slideshare). Shameless plug: Hey, did you know my content was among the Top 1% of most viewed on SlideShare in 2013! Check out my Year in Review.
I digress… Revisiting Google+ in earnest I made a startling discovery. Some of the very people I had been rubbing shoulders with in the early stages had become phenomenally successful with 10’s of thousands of followers! I was instantly remorseful of my habitual patterns and the draw Facebook seemed to have on me.
Google+ Communities had been launched and they were well on their way to becoming one of the network’s most powerful features. Google+ Communities are Google’s version of Facebook and LinkedIn groups created to bring people together around particular shared interests. They are a great opportunity for businesses to increase their following, expand their reach, and build trust and authority among their Google+ readership (in case you are not on this social site just yet, read this). I’ve been browsing and contributing to communities to reestablish my G+ presence. Once I feel I have earned community members trust, I will establish my own Business Community, and recommend for you to follow this protocol. Here is what I have learned so far how companies can best use Google+ Communities for business to their advantage.
Create Your Own Communities with Your Business Page
You have the most control when you are the owner of the Community, so that’s why it’s best to create one for each topic that people usually think of relating to your brand. If you sell sports equipment, your Communities can be around health and fitness, real estate, social media or any other interest you target. Once you have the Communities ready you can invite your Google+ followers to interact with you and other people around the topic you all share interest in.
Post Regularly to Your Communities
A Google+ Community managed by a company differs from one owned by a person. When people join your Communities they expect to see your unique insights and expertise relevant to the corresponding topics. They are not as likely to be overwhelmed by how often you post as long as they provide interesting and current information your following can use. In your Communities you can share your own articles as well as curated content to keep your readers interested and engaged around the topic.
Find Someone Reliable to Cover Moderation
People are usually cautious around communities, groups and forums because they’ve often seen lots of spam in these sites’ streams. In Google+ Communities moderators don’t have all the control (though knowing Google, the best is yet to come), but they have the power to remove or block people who post unrelated or inappropriate posts, and delete the posts. Make sure you have good moderators in your team, – consider someone you personally know and trust to help you, or someone employed in your company.
Be Part of Other Relevant Communities as Your Brand
Here you can browse different Communities already existing on Google+, and find relevant public ones that you can join as your brand. Be an active participant there, and only invite the members to your Community if and when appropriate.
Share Your Community with The Rest of The World
Businesses should keep their Communities public so that anyone can join them. You need to endorse your Google+ Communities and let people know that is where they can network with you and others who share interest in the same topics as they are. Share them on your blog and website, include them in your articles and the content you post, and email them to your subscribers.
Consider a Google+ Community for Customer Support and Service
If you can provide online support and service for your customers you should definitely consider using Google+ Communities for communication. Not only because your team can easily handle the questions and concerns your customers may have, but other members of the Community can also share their thoughts and experiences, and help you with the answers.
The best thing about Google+ is that everything can be adjusted to businesses’ specific needs and unique ways of using the network to boost their exposure online. How do you use Google+ to expand your brand influence? Do you think Communities can help, and what are your best practices?
We’ve been having a lot of fun with infographics lately and have started to include outside source information. Here is a great article that discusses the 6 Benefits of a Google + Community. This post was written by Robin Foster and she was kind enough to let us include them in our infographic.