I know, you’re getting invites to Google+ Communities left and right, but you want to start your own, right? Here’s how to do it as well as why you should, and maybe why you shouldn’t yet.
- Log into Google+ and click the new Google+ Communities button in the left hand nav.If you’ve already joined some communities you’ll see a list of them here, as well as some other communities to explore.
- Click the red “Create a Community” button in the upper right hand corner
- Decide if you want your community to be public or private. You can’t make a public community private later or a private one public, so choose wisely.
- Give it a name that will resonate with other potential members
- Decide if anyone can join or if you prefer to approve new members
- Click the create button and you’re done! Well almost. It’s a good idea to add some more details now so anyone who sees your shiny new community will want to join it.
- Add a tag line. This is the description people will see to help them decide if your community is right for them.
- Add a photo. This should catch the eye of the viewer and tell the story of what the community is all about. You can import a photo and then use the built-in editing tools to resize and position it.
- Fill in the about section. This is important stuff. Why should people care about your Google+ Community?
- If your community is all about your business and you’re setting up your description at the office, consider adding the location by clicking the “add location” icon. I strongly recommend only doing this for public places of business and never your home for safety reasons.
Building your Google+ Community
OK, now you’ve got your community. Easy peasy. As with most things social though, this is the easy part. You need to feed a community to help it thrive and not just with your own content.
- Post provocative content that will stimulate discussion
- Create some categories that will help people filter your community for just the information they are interested in right now
- Invite people to the community who will add value and create stimulating discussions
- Spread the word about your community on relevant networks. Not everybody knows about Google+ Communities yet, so share your group with them and explain why they should join.
- Protect your community. If you start to get filled up with spammers and self marketers either message them and politely ask them to knock it off, flag their posts, or block them from the group.
- Keep things moving. The number one killer of any community is lack of movement. If you’re not willing to add content consistently and encourage others to do so too, your community will never flourish.
- Once you have some users in your community you can select users (just like Facebook) to make moderators. This is an especially good idea for brands. As moderators come and go you’ll always be able to take care of your community.
Why Build a Google+ Community?
Why build any community at all? To communicate with a group of like minded people, that’s why. Whether Google+ is the right place to build it depends on a lot of factors, but as people get frustrated with the limitations of Facebook groups and look to have a more refined conversation on sites like Google+ the value of these communities is going to increase. If you are going to give it a go here’s a quick how to guide to building Google+ Communities.
These could be used for customer support, team collaboration, focus groups and for private clubs who need a place to share information, documents and discussions. Create a private group for your clients and share information to keep them on top of the latest in your field.
These will reach a broader audience more quickly and can be a wonderful way to reach out to groups of people who share hobbies, workplaces, ideas and areas of interest. Public communities can be set to allow anyone to join or to moderate new members. If your community topic lends itself to trolls or flame wars, consider making it a moderated membership.
Why NOT to create a Google+ Community
Some people really do have nothing to say. Well, not nothing, but not enough to keep a community growing and thriving. If that’s you, all is not lost. You can try grow a community by inviting natural community builders–engaging people who talk to each other and keep things lively, but it’s a hard way to go. You’ll need to curate those lively communicators and encourage and support them every way you can. If you don’t have the time to create the content or to nurture the community then just don’t. It will only make you, and by extension your brand, look bad. Join some other communities and start there. You can always start a community later once you’re ready.