12 Most Advantageous Ways to Utilize Google+ Communities
The latest thing to happen in the social media world was Google+ unveiling the “Communities” feature. That was a feature many of us were waiting for a quite awhile and many of us happily embraced it. Most of us are quite active on either Facebook or LinkedIn Groups or both and know the power of collective thoughts. Google+ Circles did help in creating such groups, but it was only a list of users that you would create and follow.
Since the launch, I have seen many of us joining multiple communities or create new ones. And then there have been multiple instances of communities catering to the same subject. Hence, I will explore here the 12 ways I learned to utilize Google+ Communities.
1. Identifying your needs
Make a note of the topics you plan to join or just have a look at the discussions. They could be anything — SEO or photography or even baking. This will be useful when you are looking for a specific kind of community.
2. Identifying a G+ Community
Start searching for relevant communities based on the specific subject you are looking for. You will see a few communities already shortlisted for you under “Discover Communities” based on your interests. Otherwise, you can utilize the search bar at the top or the one just below the “Discover Communities” to look for particular Communities within your area of interest. You may also lurk into some communities to see the level of engagement. It doesn’t matter how big or small the community is, engagement is the key.
3. Joining or creating a Community
If you have been able to discover a community of your choice, jump into the discussions. Try contributing to the discussions and build a good one. And if you have not been able to find the one you were seeking, create one. Leverage the power of Google+, share your community information and invite members to join your community.
It is worth pointing out: do not go for quantity and do not join too many communities. Instead, go for quality and join only a few communities where you can share quality information.
4. Privacy settings
If you have setup a community, it is very important to setup up the right kind of privacy for the group. Google+ provides four levels of privacy:
- Public Open — Anyone can find and join this community
- Public Moderated — Anyone can find and ask to join the community
- Private — It can’t be found on the search and only the moderators can add members
- Private Moderated — The community can be found in search but the moderator needs to approve the join requests
The key difference between Public and Private is the visibility of the post. Posts in private groups are visible only to members.
One of the best features of Google+ Communities is the option to create “Categories” within the community. This helps to add posts into different baskets and will aid in channeling discussions.
As an owner of the group, you will have the option to add moderator(s) to the group. While you can setup multiple rules within the Community, you’ll need multiple members to keep an eye on the discussions. Thus, Moderators help in doing the same and keeping the discussion healthy and engaging. It is always good to have multiple moderators because as the group grows, the owner might find it difficult to keep track of the posts and engage everywhere.
A small bell like feature on the Communities page allows you to tinker with notifications. An “On” bell signifies that you’ll receive an email for every post that is made in the group. If you’re in multiple communities, sometimes there are more emails than you can handle. It’s wise to keep it “Off” and switch “On” for only few communities.
One of the best ways I found to leverage Communities was to engage with other members. You can post interesting information, leave comments and even do an occasional Hangout to engage with other members. To get even more SEO juice, it is essential that you keep great engagement going.
The other advantage of Communities I have found is networking. It is one of the best places to build personal or professional networks since you are most likely to find like-minded people in your community. It also gives you a chance to network beyond your local area.
I have seen some brands leverage Communities very well. For example, say I am looking for a Twitter management tool and asked for suggestions in a social media group. Representatives from the brand can leave a comment with either the URL of their product or even offer an offline demo. It is a win-win situation for the user as well as the brand.
11. Thought leadership
Google+ Communities offers the user a great chance to be thought leaders within their domain. Once you are part of the community, ensure that you’re sharing information, commenting and answering queries of other users to become known as a thought leader.
12. Draw traffic
Google recognizes your participation on Google+ and the more engaged you are, the better rankings you can get on its search engine. Even beyond getting the SEO juice, you can also draw indirect traffic by sharing links to your articles or website and asking other members to visit it.
I hope these steps will help you get more out of utilizing Google+ Communities. It’s one of the best things to have happened to Google and it’s only we who can make it a worthwhile place to be.
Have you joined a Google+ Community? What do you think of it?
Featured image courtesy of dannysullivan licensed via Creative Commons.