Google+ for Business: Communities - Reaching Out and Engaging
It’s almost been two full years since Google+’s official launch, and many businesses are still wondering how to use it in their social media marketing plan.
This article is part of a six part series by Wishpond. We explore the business benefits of the social media platform, Google+, and how it can help your online marketing efforts.
Communities versus Circles
At first glance, these two terms seem very similar, but they are actually used for very different purposes. Both of these features should be used for any Google+ Businesses as they both add value in their own way.
As a recap of the previous section: Google+ Circles allows you to isolate and segment the people you follow on Google+. The big thing is that your followers have no idea which Google+ Circles you’ve added them to. In a way, it is just your own personal (or corporate) way of arranging your followers into clean-cut categories, which can provide a lot of value both externally and internally.
Google+ Communities resemble the traditional message boards used by the rest of the internet. They are usually built around a central theme, like “Harry Potter” or “cats”. In these communities, followers can interact with other like-minded individuals, and allows the community moderator to post personalized content to that specific Google+ Community.
Effectively using Google Communities for Business:
Google+ Communities is a great way for companies to communicate and interact with their customers.
Research and Develop Community Ideas that Match your Followers’ Tastes:
It is important to build communities that are actually meaningful to your followers. Take some time to research and brainstorm some potential topics that might be associated with your brand and assign a Google+ Community to each of these. If they are interested in your topics, they will automatically sort themselves into the appropriate communities (once they are invited, of course).
Make sure your Brand remains Active:
Generally speaking, people join your Google+ Community because they want to see more information about the topic from the perspective of the brand. Make sure to stay on top of each community by providing them with quality content to keep them satisfied.
Emphasize a High Level of Responsibility for Managers and Moderators:
Moderators are similar to managers except with less privileges - and are typically the person solely in charge of their particular community board. In addition to providing new content to followers, managers will also have to deal with any disputes among community members that may arise. It is important for everyone on the team to realize that a brand community is still a face of the company and the brand, and any moderators or managers who are in charge of a community must remain professional at all times. How well a community board is governed can have a strong impact on community follower retention. This also gives less skilled moderators a chance to improve their valuable customer relation skills.
Explore other Communities as your Brand:
Join other pre-existing Google+ Communities to spread the influence of your board and build up the trust of the community members. While it is standard etiquette on most internet boards not to appear as though you are advertising on the board, it is still possible to introduce your community to members of other communities as long as it is tasteful and you are an established member of the board.
Expand your Reach to the Rest of the World:
Propagate your Google+ Community information everywhere! All Google users can join a community, so make sure you extend the invitation on blog posts, on other social media sites, and so on.
Get Feedback on New Ideas:
If it is within your jurisdiction, communities are a great way to see if any new product ideas are viable. There is a good chance that your community followers are heavy product users, and can give some insight into the validity of ideas. One such way to tap into this resource is to ask the community if they have any ideas on a new product direction or the effectiveness of a current promotional campaign.
Monitor the activity on your different boards. Any trends that arise may be indicative of a larger movement and will be specifically tailored to your brand, so it is important for your moderator team to read as much community content as you can (within reason, of course).
Establish Experts in your Google+ Community:
Similar to the last post, if enough consumers become experts in your brand and in the community topic, your Google+ Community could be recognized as the official place to get expert information. If the moderators and managers do a good job in providing information and resolving disputes, this will also increase the authenticity of the Google+ Community.
Google+ Communities as Customer Service Hubs:
Once your moderator team has enough experience dealing with customers, Google+ communities becomes a valuable customer service channel for your followers. The benefits of tackling customer service in a public setting are twofold. First, any problems that are quickly and effectively resolved by your moderation team are public for all members to see. If you are confident in your team’s ability to resolve issues, every successfully solved problem serves as a testament to your exceptional customer service abilities. Second, by giving users an area to post their problems, other users may begin helping and adding their own expertise and experiences. Be sure to keep a watchful eye for consistently helpful individuals so they can be promoted to moderators!
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