Monday, 14 January 2013

Google+ Begins Pushing Communities, But How Can They Help Your Business?

imageGoogle+ have begun prompting users to create their own Communities.

The Google+ Communities feature provides people with a place to share, enjoy and talk about their common interests with other Google+ users.

Members of a Community can share photos, videos and experiences, start competitions or discussions, or even create events using the selection of tabs on the Community page.

Businesses can also benefit from joining Communities: they can learn more about their target audience, connect with others in their industry and, in certain instances, market their products and services.

Here are the five steps to take when using Google+ Communities to the benefit of your business.


1. Connect

There are hundreds of Communities on Google+, each one catering to a different interest. There are Communities for people who love to cook, for fans and players of specific sports and for car enthusiasts.

Try to find the Communities that are most relevant to your business. For example, if you own a high street retailers, then join a fashion community. Communities recommended for you appear to the left of the Communities page.

Once you’re part of a Community you can post questions and comments, answer the questions of others (if you know the answer) and share your experiences, whether in photo, video or message form.

By posting interesting and relevant information on a Community page, you can make friends, broaden your network and raise your business’ online presence.


2. Create

If there aren’t any Communities which cater to your interests, then why not create one? Creating Communities is very easy, just make sure you know what your Community is all about so that you can describe it succinctly in the About section.

Add an eye-catching photo to your Communities page, one that instantly encapsulates your pages purpose.
You will administrate the page, but you can add administrators if you want. Decide whether the page is public or private. You can customise your pages viewing restrictions further: do new members need to be vetted by administrators? How much can non-members see?

Once you have created your Community, make sure that you keep it current and interesting. Once you have enough members then the Community will become self-sufficient, you will, however, need to make sure you check that all the posts are suitable.

Only create a Community page specifically for your business if it is meant as a private tool for communication between employees. Communities are not brand profiles! Google+ already provides that service on the site.


3. Teach/learn

Whether you’re part of a Community or you create one, you can use your experience to give useful tips and advice to other Community members.

If you post interesting articles or you prove yourself an expert in your industry, then other Google+ members will begin to look to you for advice: they will equate your business with the expert advice that you give. You can, of course, post as your business from your company’s profile.

If you’re having difficulty finding out what your target audience want from a brand, why not ask them? Start a conversation or ask a question if you want some hints.

4. Target

Some big brands have fan-made Community pages ready made: Ford, Audi and BMW all have Communities devoted to the celebration of their cars.

Your business is unlikely to have such a devoted following on Google+. However, if you have followed the advice of the tips above, you will have been able to connect with other Google+ users who may have an interest in your business.

It may also be worth finding your competitors on Google+ Communities, just to see how they’re utilising the service, or even to connect with them.


5. Market (carefully!)

If done correctly, you can advertise your business on Community pages.

Follow the conversations on Community pages carefully. An opportunity to mention your own business may arise. For example, if there is a conversation about the history of the Tour de France on a Community page for cycling enthusiasts, and you sell retro cycling jerseys, you can post about your company and the deals you have.

It is extremely important that you don’t spam Community pages that you belong to: If you are just a member then your messages will be blocked by administrators, if you are an administrator then members will leave the Community.

How have you used Google+ Communities for your business?


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