Google+ finally has an answer to Facebook Groups. It’s called Google+ Communities. And while Google+ Communities aren’t unique and innovative like Google+ Hangouts, they just may be the feature that pushes Google+ beyond the “early adopters,” and into the mainstream of social media networks.
My first reaction to the news about Google+ Communities was, “this sounds great, but really, do I need a reason to spend more time on social media?” Having played around in the new Google+ Communities, I’ve decided the result isn’t going to be more time spent, but rather time better spent.
So, if you’re thinking Google+ Communities sound interesting, but you’re not sure you really have time to spend there, I encourage you to read on. There are at least 5 reasons you’ll want to rethink that position.
What and Where Are Google+ Communities?
I won’t give you a step-by-step “how to” on Google+ Communities here. Let’s just look at the basics so you can understand what they are. Then we’ll go into why you should care.
Google+ Communities can be public or private. There are 2 types of public groups – one allows everyone to post and comment; the other allows only moderators to post, but everyone can comment. There are also 2 types of private groups – one that can be discovered through search, and one that is discoverable only to those who have the url.
You can find your Google+ Communities by logging in to your Google+ profile and looking for the green icon on the left-hand side. It looks like this:
When you click on the “Communities” icon, you’ll see thumbnails of Communities you might be interested in. Before I joined any Communities, I saw just a few generic offerings. Now, I see 48 thumbnails of Communities that appear to be targeted to my interests. I suggest you type keywords into the “search” box to discover Communities you may want to join. You’ll find the “search” box on the right side of the page, like this:
Why Google+ Communities?
Now that you know where to find them and a little about what they are, let’s look at why you’ll want to be a part of Google+ Communities. At the time I write this, Google+ Communities are about 1 day old. So I’m sure my list will evolve, but initially, 5 reasons come to mind.
1. Your Content is Indexed by Google
Need I say more? If you are using the Internet to grow your business in any way, you need to be found on Google. You know, the largest search engine there is . . .
Naturally, Google is indexing the content on its own platform. So, what better way to be found than to be posting content relevant to your market in your Google+ Communities?
2. Google+ Circles, Done Better
You may be thinking, “I just create communities by putting people into targeted Google+ circles.” So do I, but here’s the problem with that method that is solved by Google+ Communities. When you put all of your friends who are interested in YouTube in a “YouTube circle” not only will you see all of their posts about YouTube in that circle, you’ll see their posts about everything in that circle. And they likely have other interests that are not in common with yours.
This problem is solved when you both join a YouTube Community on Google+.
3. Categories Within Communities
One of my favorite features of Google+ Communities is the Categories. Once you’ve created a Community, the Community owner can add Categories to further specialize the various Community interests. You’ll find the categories on the left-hand side inside of each individual Community.
For example, one of the social media Communities I’m in has a Category for each of the different social media platforms. Here’s what it looks like inside that Community (I’ve drawn an orange box around the Category names):
So, in this example, if I were just interested in posts about Twitter, I would click the “Twitter” Category and the stream would show only posts that have been made to that Category.
When you are posting in a Community, you choose which Categories you want your post to appear in. The creator of a Community can define up to 20 Categories.
4. Content Curation Made Easier
I recently recommended to you that Google+ is a great place to do content curation ~ that is to find great stuff to share with your audience. Well, it just got even better with Google+ Communities.
Once you find the right Communities, it will essentially be like having additional topic-specific RSS Readers to pick content from, without having to set up all the RSS feeds. If you aren’t using Google+ for content curation, start joining Communities today, with that purpose in mind.
5. Build Your Authority
If you know me, you know building your authority in your market should be the number one priority of your business. Google+ Communities offer a fabulous opportunity to do this.
Some of these Communities will have thousands of people, but as with all things, the number of faithful participants will be relatively small. If you consistently show up in the right communities, offer help, and share valuable content, people are going to start recognizing you as an authority in your market. And a good number of them will go to your blog, subscribe to your list, and buy your stuff.
You don’t have to be the owner of the Community to make this happen. Just do right there. You can create events within the Community. How about creating a relevant webinar to share your knowledge?
And my favorite ~ You can start a Google+ Hangout in the Community! I’ve told you that YouTube is the best way to build relationships because video is as close to “in person” as you can get. Well, this is even easier. All you have to do is push the “start a new hangout” button. No uploading, downloading, or tagging. No keyword research ~ yes! You’ve got an interested and captive audience right there within your Community.
Here’s one last really cool thing about Google+ Communities over Facebook Groups. You don’t have to go into the Community to post there. You can post straight from your home page or profile page. Once you’ve typed what you want to post, click on “add more people,” and your Communities will appear on the list after your Circles, like this:
Once you choose a Community, the Categories will then appear in the drop-down and you can be even more specific if you’d like. The easier it is, the more likely you’ll do it, right? If your day is anything like mine, saving a few seconds by not having to jump from group to group to post is a difference-maker!
Okay, now it’s your turn. Have you joined any Google+ Communities? What do you like or dislike so far? Please share your valuable thoughts on this new feature in the comments below.