Google+ Communities are a feature of Google+ that allows people to gather together, interact and talk about their common interests. They can share interesting content, ask questions and even have events. Communities range from cooking, book clubs, and family to business type communities such as technology, finance, legal… just about any topic you can think of. Communities have become one of the most popular features Google+ has to offer. At last count there’s over 50,000 communities – that number will continue to grow.
There’s so much you can learn about Google+ Communities for your business – many blog posts and articles have been written, along with what Google provides, including some FAQ’s. Here’s a short list of facts.[ba-list style=”paperclip”]
- Any Google+ user can create and host his or her own community.
- You can create a community at work or school – learn more. Google has thought of everything!
- Create both Public and Private Communities. For example we are interested in how to use Google+ to it’s fullest potential for our business so we joined the Plus Your Business Community which is Public. For our business, we create Private communities for special events and projects we are working on.
- You can create Private communities with your family, friends or colleagues at work. I love the idea of a Family community. Ellen and I (elSue) are from a large family. This will give us the opportunity to communicate with each other all in one place, make comments, share what we are up to, post events and even have Video Hangouts. If you find yourself sharing information regularly among the same group of people, communities are a great way to get everyone involved. Be creative and have some fun.
- There are four types of communities; Public – anyone can join, Public- Moderator approval needed to join, Private- Let people find through search and request to join and Private- Hide community from searches. For more information on what each type means checkout Create a Google+ Community.
- As a manager of a Google+ community, you can organize discussions by categories, add moderators to help ensure the community runs smoothly, relevant content is posted, highlight great posts and don’t let spam enter the community. Be sure to write a description that clearly states what the community is about, objectives and some guidelines as to what is and isn’t allowed… in a nice way.
- Categories are used to help keep a community organized. For example, a Book Club you could have; Discussion, Authors, Mysteries, Fiction, Book Reviews, All Time Favorites, etc. as categories. You can edit your categories at any time. If you find one isn’t working, delete it and add more if needed.
- Engage other people in the community by giving a +1 to great content they posted, share it with others outside of the community and on your profile or business page. Answers questions if you know the answer, recommend a community to others you think they might be interested in it.
- What’s so cool (I know that’s lame) is that you can share photos, plan events and have a face-to-face meeting via video Hangouts – all in one place, within a community.
Engagement on Public Communities
I’ve been engaging on the public communities I belong to a lot more lately. I found the more I participate by sharing information of value, asking or answering questions, making comments in the community, the more people are adding me to their circles, giving a +1, mentioning me, or make a comment on what I’ve shared or asked . Here’s an example of a question posted about cover photos in the Plus Your Business community. Note the +1’s and comments. Two people that commented on this post added me to their circles. Engagement is key within a community.
Private Communities for business events and projects
We create Private Communities within our business for special events and projects. All departments (circles of people), involved both internal and external get notified via an invite from the manager with a description of the event or project. Once they accept the invitation, they are inside the community. We share text, links, photos, videos and events such as a meeting or a video hangout on the fly or schedule one in advance. When sharing, people select the appropriate category and share within the community. People can make comments about what has been shared. You will find that some people are shy in business meetings and don’t like to give their input in front of others – I know – I’ve been there. They are more apt to make a comment, post research, upload and share documents and want to participate and contribute in a community event or project via the community.
Let’s go ahead and create a fictitious community which I can easily delete later. Our community is going to be an event – we are having a Google+ Workshop. From start to finish this event can be managed within the community. Let’s get started.
Step 1 – Hover over Home > Select Communities > Create community
Step 2 – Private community
Select Private as the type of community you are making and name it. From the dropdown menu, click on No, hide it from the searches and Create community. By hiding it from the searches, you won’t have to worry about anyone trying to join your private community.
Step 3 – Congratulations, you’ve started a Community!
Follow each step Google provides – you can always go back and edit the community. If you don’t have a photo on hand, no worries, you can add it later. Note: the photo or image must be at least 250 x 250 pixels.
Category setup, description, links
- These are your categories
- Add new category – these can be edited while working on your event
- Write a description about the event (community)
- Add relevant links
- Leave as invite only community
- Easily delete when event is complete
Invite people into the event (community)
Create circles for sales, marketing, vendors, etc. before sending out the invite. Although you may already have a circle for sales and marketing, are all those in that circle participating in the event? If not create a sales and marketing circle specifically for that event. People can also be notified individually. Circles you create can be deleted after the event is completed.
Using circles makes it easier to share information about your event. For example, you want to share an update to the budget with sales and finance, you would create your post and send it to the sales and finance circles you created. They receive notification and can make comments on what you have shared. The concept of circles is the same within a community as they are when using your Google+ profile or page.
The initial invite should will come from the manager of the event (community) inviting them to join the event. This is where you would select the circles you created or enter the person’s name.
Notifications and editing
Within your community you can turn notifications on or off. For events or projects, I recommend leaving them on so that you are notified when someone posts and always kept in the loop.
Hover over the gear icon to see other options which includes Edit Community. Click on that to add or delete categories or make any changes necessary, be sure to click on “Done” in the right corner to save your edits.
Share with your community
You have the ability to share Text, Photos, Links, add a video and even setup meetings or Video Hangouts by clicking on Event. Click on each share icon to see what options they have. Everything can be done within the community – I can’t stress that enough.
Schedule a meeting or Hangout
This is my favorite feature. You can schedule a Video Hangout with one host and up to nine members of community. If you have more than nine members, computers could be shared. If they are at different locations, have them sit around a computer. Be creative!
To schedule the Hangout do the following:[ba-list style=”paperclip”]
- Click on the Event icon from the Share box (see above image)
- Click on Event Options (1) Advanced (2) Hangouts (3)
- Fill in the fields that apply
- You can even change the theme (image or photo) to brand your event
- Send to the circles or individuals you want to invite
People involved in the event can join the hangout from anywhere in the world. That’s the luxury of Hangouts.
Note: For more information about Hangouts and Hangouts on Air, I suggest you start following Ronnie Bincer on Google+. You can find some of his Hangouts on YouTube as well. He is a wealth of information.
There’s so much you can do with Google+ Communities within your business. You could have a community for Upper Management where they post to each other, department communities such as Sales, Marketing, and a community where you list your Events for the year. These are just a few suggestions. Be creative with your ideas – you may win the boss over.
Your comments and questions are more than welcome. We would love to hear your ideas of ways to use communities. If you are already using them for your business, with friends or family, what you are doing. Any tips you have to help us expand would be great too.
Image source: Mervik Haums generously shared these infographic people I used for the Google+ Communities image in the Infograpic Plus Community at no charge. For more information about his work, you can checkout his Mervik Haums Google+ Profile and stream.