This article is a step by step guide for creating a Google+ community for business owners. It explains all the relevant settings for setting up a Google+ page, how to populate a Google+ community, and includes a few remarks about best practices.
In the world of social media, Google+ is one of the biggest rising stars. With more than 400 million active users, there are dozens of good reasons to get involved in Google+. For instance, more than 70% of brands already have a presence on Google+. Business pages are automatically indexed by Google, making it easier for people to find your business online. And most importantly of all, when someone gives your content a +1, it can help you rank better in search results. Like with most social media platforms, it’s free to create a Google+ community. Below we’ll look at how to create your own community on Google+, and how you can use it to connect to prospective customers to grow your business.
Create a New Community
To begin creating your own community, login to your Google+ account and head to the home button in the top left corner of the page. Select the home button, and choose the “Communities” option from the menu. Click on the bright blue “Create community” button and you’ll be taken into the community creation wizard. From here you’ll be prompted to select a private or a public community. It’s important to note that your selection is permanent, so take the time to consider which kind of community you want to create before proceeding.
Private vs. Public Communities
If you have a large base of existing followers on other networks, it’s a good idea to create a public community. The most important distinction between public and private communities is that inside of a public community, users can share community content outside of your group. This also enables your fans to embed community content in their blog.
By contrast, private communities are useful for creating closed personal communities for close collaboration and conversation with small groups. Because private communities by their very nature have a comparably limited reach, ninety nine out of a hundred businesses will want to choose to create a public community.
After you’ve made your decision, you’ll be prompted to give your community and a description. Once you’re finished, select “Done” and you’ll be prompted to invite members to your community.
Getting New Members
Once you have your community open, you can begin to think about filling it up. There are dozens of ways to get the word out about a new community, but the best place to start is to send personalized invites to people you already know on Google+. If you have a contact list on Gmail, Google+ will attempt to automatically populate your community with those contacts.
As for adding people who aren’t on your contact list, remember to only contact people who have expressed some interest in your page or services, or else your community will be perceived as spammy. Apart from your contacts, you should consider inviting members from the other platforms you participate on, like Twitter and Facebook, to give them the opportunity to participate with your brand on their network of choice. You should also consider adding a link into your email signature or a Google+ badge to your website in order to generate a steady flow of new participants. You can get a badge here: developers.google.com/+/web/badge/
Closed Public Communities
Often times, exclusivity is a good motivator to get people to join a community, especially if you already have communities elsewhere on the Internet. A closed community requires that Google+ members ask to join, which can actually drastically increase engagement and membership in the long term. Closed communities are also a good way to filter out spam from unwanted guests.
If you want to create a closed community, head to the community page, select the settings icon, and choose “Edit community” from the drop down menu. On the following page, scroll down to the bottom of the leftmost column for the “Who can join” heading. After changing your settings, click to confirm the change and you’re done!
Every community thrives on engagement, and smaller communities are even more dependent on personal engagement from their owners. This doesn’t just mean moderating and giving a +1 to posts that interest you, but to greet new members and encourage discussion on your page. When you receive private conversations, ask your readers to take them to the community. This allows you to crowd source the advice you give, and to share your resources with the entire community rather than with one individual.
In any community, there will be members more vocal or helpful than others. Google+ allows you to reward these users by placing them in a special group, called a circle, and sharing that group with the rest of the community. This also gives you an easy way to keep tabs on the most engaged members of your community.
Like with anything else in life, it’s worth learning from masters of the craft. After creating your Google+ community, find several pages to follow and study them to see what they’re doing right. Both inside your industry and beyond, there are hundreds of brands that can set a good example for how you can build your own page. Although few excellent communities are truly built overnight, with hard work and persistence, it doesn’t take long for your own community to start to grow.