Google+ is excellent for social marketing these days. When most marketers think of Google, they think of SEO. Well, those days are gone—these days, Google is all about community and interaction. Google is a company you want to cozy up to if you want a huge market reach and a surefire social marketing campaign.
There's definitely more than one benefit to paying attention to Google+. You're not just forming a community on one platform. You're also taking advantage of Google+ as a social network, Google+ as a community platform, your YouTube channel, and Hangouts. You're really killing FOUR birds with one stone when you sign up for Google+. Google's made it so that all of these things are integrated—you really can’t help but go for them all if you so much as sign up for something like a Gmail account these days.
Not only that, but Google+ communities are easy, free, and fun. There are many opportunities to tie your Google+ interactions with your other business ventures. You can even make it so that your Google+ community is free or paid. In this case, and for maximum growth and maximum exposure, I'm going to assume that your focus is on free for now. Though, I have seen some successful paid Google+ communities and events as well. People happily pay for them and get a lot of value out of them as well.
You can easily run webinar like instruction via Hangouts, which is a huge plus for your community and can bring you a lot closer together than you can with other options like Facebook groups. Google+ allows you to reach a whole new segment that may not be on Facebook or within your membership community. There’s nothing saying that you can’t or shouldn’t have both a Facebook group and a Google+ community if you have the time for it or if it fits into your social marketing strategy.
There's even a great sort of email marketing tool built right into Google+-- this is a great thing if a big segment of your niche uses Gmail. Basically, your Google+ communications can land right in the inbox of your users and it’s all nicely integrated via Gmail, giving you a ton of visibility.
The Four Parts of Google+
There are four main parts built into Google+.
You really can't escape from signing up for one of these, especially if you have a Gmail account. The Google+ profile is there for you to connect socially. This is Google's answer to Facebook. Here, you can talk about yourself and connect with friends, family, and business associates. You can also connect with people with like interests.
The way you connect with people on Google+ is through circles. You can circle anyone you're interested in. In this way, it's a lot like Twitter. It's also unlike Facebook in this way, as on Facebook there has to be a mutual friending. However, in order for people to see your updates on Google+, they do have to circle you back. Again, it’s like Twitter, in that way. On Google+, you can connect with people you wouldn't find elsewhere. Other than that, it doesn’t feel like Twitter at all—it really is its own place with its own vibe.
When you have a Google+ profile, you can post on your profile just as you would a Facebook status update. People can comment on what you've posted and they can also click the +1 button. Only those who have circled you can see what you post, depending on what you've selected as the privacy settings of your post.
You can share things from around the web, comment on things others have commented on or shared, and more. Google+ has a nice interface. You’ll probably enjoy it if you haven’t given it a chance before. You can even post to your Google+ community straight from your main Google+ page or even from pages on the web that have a +1 button, which makes things easy.
Google+ communities are what you're mainly going to focus on for this type of community. These can be more public or private communities. You can create a community on just about any topic. There are probably many communities out there connected to your niche that you could join right now. Communities are a great way to connect. Again, communities work hand-in-hand with the all four parts of Google+.
As the leader of a Google+ community, people can find your community in the search bar and join right into the conversation. You can host Hangouts for people in your community to join, you can host events for them to join, and you can share things to your community, and have a really great time and grow your business. Google does a nice job of integrating many different options and opportunities for their communities.
Google includes many nice tools for community leaders. You can easily bring in moderators, set community guidelines, set the type of community you prefer to have, create categories for posting, and more. As far as flexibility goes, Google+ has it.
Hangouts are a great addition to Google+ as well. Hangouts are kind of like webinars. They allow you to be face-to-face with up to 10 people (plus an unlimited number of others can watch you). These Hangouts are broadcast live. You'll probably be the leader of these Hangouts as part of your community, though you may want to join in on a few as a guest before you try to host one.
People from your community can join in or just watch. These Hangouts stay up on YouTube even after they are over, which can give you a lot of great traffic and exposure for your community long after the live event has ended as people find them and watch them.
There are many great ways to get to know the people in your community. However, Hangouts really set Google+ apart because of the face-to-face interaction that almost makes it seem like you're in the same room together. You and your community members can really get to know one another. You really feel like you get to know people when you interact with them on a Hangout.
The YouTube Channel:
Then of course, there's your YouTube channel. When you create a Google+ profile, you're also creating a YouTube channel. Google really wants all of this integrated these days. Having a YouTube channel and YouTube videos is great for search engine optimization. It's a great lead-in into your community, brands, and products. Your Hangouts will go here after they've been done live. You can also post additional videos that brand you, showcase your community, and more. Again, all of these parts work hand-in-hand for a well-rounded Google+ experience.
In my next post, I’ll talk about joining Google+ communities, and also starting your own community.