Google just released it’s newest addition to their suite of social apps, Google+ Communities. This is the G+ equivalent of Facebook Groups. Google has always promoted Google+ as a gathering place. Whether you are gathering around common interest and passions or gathering for an in depth discussion or just casual chitchat, Google wants to be there to make it happen and in a memorable way. Vic Gundotra, Google’s Senior VP of Engineering explained in his SMX Keynote Conversation “When we thought about Google+, we recognized that there was a sea change online. It wasn’t just about connecting people to pages, but about connecting people to other people.” Google+ Communities are designed to mirror real life by providing an online environment to create and nurture those “people to people” connections.
I’ve got mine… You got yours?
Shortly after Google+Communities were announced I began to receive invitations to join various communities being created by my friends and social acquaintances. I quickly joined in and created several of my own communities. Like Facebook Groups, you have the option to make the community public or private, with different levels of activity permissions. While there are some similarities between Google+ Communities and Facebook Groups there are also differences to note. Here are some of the more significant differences I have noticed so far. In Google+ Communities members have the ability to post in categories for easy searching and more dynamic discussion. The graphics and media posted in the community are larger and more prominent. Members can also share from their own profile share box into any of their communities. To further enhance the sense of real life connectivity you can even create events and hangouts right on the community page. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend you join a few communities of interest and maybe even start a community or two of your own.
Here’s how… It’s REally easy
In 6 easy steps you will have your Google+ Community setup
- From your Google+ Profile Page Click on the new Communities icon in the left hand nav bar. (or go to https://plus.google.com/communities)
- Click on the Red “Create Community” button in the upper right hand corner of the page. (right next to the settings gear.)
- Choose whether your community should be public or private. (This is a very important step and can not be changed once the community is created. If you want to change your community’s visibility type, you’ll have to delete the community and create a new one.) Learn more about the choices for community access, privacy and sharing.
- Give your Community a unique name. If you have a Google+ page, avoid using the same name so that there is no confusion for the users.
- For Public Communities, choose whether any one can join or if they must request and be approved by a moderator.
For Private Communities, choose whether or not you want your community to be found in searches or not.
- Click Create Community
Voilà! Wasn’t that easy?
Fix it up… Invite Your Friends
Here are a few tips to help you customize and get your new community off to a successful start.
- Add a photo. To set a community photo click on the Actions menu and choose “Edit Community.”
- Complete the About section. While you are in the “Edit Community” mode go ahead and fill out the About section at the bottom of the left column under the Category List. This is the primary place for new members to learn about your community. Use this section to describe the purpose of your community and add any additional information or relevant links.
- Set up a few Categories for discussion. You can use Categories to organize the discussions and gather members around special interest within your community. Maybe you want to use one category to introduce and highlight new members. You can also use one of the categories to post your community guidelines and etiquette, setting clear expectations around posts and discussions. You can have 20 unique categories and you can arrange the order of appearance in the sidebar.
- Invite People to join. Just follow these steps and share with you circles.
- While in your community, click Actions to open the drop-down
- Select Invite people
- A share box will open. You can write a message to include with your invitation
- Add names, circles, or email addresses of the people you’d like to invite
- Click Send
Engage… and be engaging
Here are some tips to create and maintain a healthy community.
- Write an initial post or two so that your new guest don’t arrive in an empty room.
- Welcome each person as they join and encourage them to introduce themselves.
- As people begin to join your community you may want to promote a few of them to moderator to help facilitate discussions and assist with community interactions.
- Manage members by clicking on “view all” in the header of the members section on the right of the discussion thread. Beside each members name on the right is a drop down menu with choices to promote to moderator or remove/ban from group.
- Promote your community as a place where people can gather and connect around common interests.
- Participate in as well as initiate conversations by posting, commenting and +1ing.
- Be sure to encourage and engage with all your members.
- Check in regularly, don’t leave your community unattended.
- Ask questions and listen to your community; keep topics relevant and focused on your community’s interests.
- If your email inbox starts running over with all the notices from the communities you can turn them off by clicking on the little bell icon under the community photo.
I hope you enjoy creating and being a part of your Google+ Communities.
Let us know what types of Google+ Communities are you joining and/or creating?