Hopefully, from part 1 of this discussion, you're starting to get a feel for how Google+ works. You can join other communities so you can get a real feel for them before you create your own. It's best if you join one or more in the niche you are considering creating your community about.
I’ll assume you've already created your own Google+ profile, but if you have not, go ahead and do that now. Then, go to the upper left-hand corner of your Google+ profile. Find the communities box and click on it. A search box should appear where you can search for keywords related to your niche. Click through the one or ones you want to join.
You can go ahead and start to interact to get a feel for how it works. You never know – you might meet lifelong friends and business partners in these communities. It's always important to network and meet others.
Communities on Google+ offer a lot of fun and are a nice way to get the latest news and make great connections. If you've never joined Google+ communities before, I think you'll really enjoy them and they do have quite a different flavor than Facebook communities and other social marketing communities.
How Google+ Communities Will Tie into Your Social Marketing
You're building your brand when you're on Google+ and use Google+ communities. You'll make connections with people you wouldn't find on other sites. By being a leader on Google+, you'll show people that you care about their success and that you’re present and ready to help them.
By making a steady commitment to your community on Google+, you'll find that people will become more loyal to you. They'll become more aware of you and your projects. You’re fostering a community around you as the leader. You’ll have a lot of fun doing it on Google+, which is definitely an added benefit!
Before You Decide to Start Your Community…
There are a few things you should think about before you go ahead and start your community. First, you should think about whether you want your community to be public or private. If you decide to start a paid community, you will want to make your community private so you have more control over it. But if you want your community to go as viral as possible as a free group (and that’s the best choice for social marketing), then public may be best. Take a look at the options and decide what's right for you.
If your group is public, you can still approve people or decide that anyone can join. If your group is private you can decide if it's hidden or if people can find it and request to join.
There are a few other decisions you'll have to make, such as the name of your group. The name of your group should be really enticing for people to make them want to join. The name of your group should speak clearly to your niche and set your group apart in some important way. Put yourself in the shoes of people searching. What will they type into the community search bar? What will they get excited about and click on?
You should also think about the goals you have for this group. How many people do you want to have in your group? How quickly would you like your group to grow? To make sure your goals are realistic, take another look at similar communities that are already present on Google+. Think about how active those groups are, what kind of role their leaders take, and more. Think about how your group can be bigger and better.
You want to put some strategies in place so you can reach your goal, and quickly. It's all about strategies, taking action, and having a plan. Remember that just because you come up your plan right now, it doesn’t necessarily mean you're always going to stick to it. As you gain more experience with Google+, you'll make adjustments and that's okay.
It is also important to have the demographics of your target audience in mind. That way, you can provide them with exactly what they want out of a group so they'll be more likely to stick around.
Committing to Hangouts and More
You have to remember that Hangouts are a huge benefit of Google+. If you've never been part of a Hangout before, you're really missing out. Hangouts are a lot of fun and they really help you make that connection with your community.
See if there are any Hangouts scheduled in your niche or really on any topic you would enjoy. You can either join in on the Hangout or just watch one. You can even look on YouTube to see if there are any previously recorded Hangouts you can watch. You'll have a great time watching and you'll definitely see the benefits of hosting one for your Google+ community. It's a nice way to get to know people and to have them get to know you.
Now, it's time to think about how often you'll commit to hosting a hangout for your community. People will love these Hangouts because the chances are good that very few people in your niche are hosting these. It will really set you apart and help build your brand. These Hangouts are great for loyalty. You'll also be able to help more people in what really amounts to a more one-on-one or small group atmosphere.
Posting Hangouts will help you get to know your audience as well. There's nothing else out there like it. It's a great, free tool you should definitely use as part of building a great Google+ community.
You can run these Hangouts as if they were a webinar. You can run them to walk people through a product or a particular method of yours. You can also run them to allow people to ask you questions they have so you can help them in real time. During Hangouts, you will mostly see each other in the background, but you can also share screens. There is a lot of flexibility and Google also offers a lot of tools. Hangouts change all the time and more flexibility is being added, so you’ll want to play around with what is available and keep up with the latest changes.
Creating Your Google+ Community
When you're ready to create your Google+ community, you'll need to choose its name, officially. You'll also need to make decisions such as whether anyone can join or whether a moderator needs to approve someone to join. You can also choose whether to hide the group from searches or not.
You'll also want to choose a tagline and pick an appealing photo. You'll choose your group's categories, create an about section, set community guidelines, choose moderators, and more. Google really does make it very easy to set up your community.
Once your community has been created, you can invite members from the actions menu. You can also have members search for you and then ask to join.
Sharing to Communities
Hopefully you’re now familiar with your Google+ page. You post to your community’s page in a very similar fashion-- it's very simple to do. Google+ makes this easy enough for people of all skill levels to do, so you will be able to figure it out.
You can also post to your community’s page from anywhere on the Google+ platform. You simply select to post straight to your community.
Also, if you're out on the web and see a +1 button, you can select it to share to your community’s page. You'll simply select your community when you see it pop up after you've clicked the +1 button.
Doing a Good Job of Running Your Community
You want to be as effective as possible at running your community. That's why you should start daily conversations, just as you would on any other platform. You're the leader, so I recommend you have a daily topic in mind. Keep people on target. Your daily topic will really help do that.
Also, make sure you're really clear about the rules. Your community guidelines will do that to a certain extent, but sometimes people need a reminder. Make sure people know what to expect up front. It can really help if you have moderators who can also help to enforce the rules. Of course, you don't want to make it all about the rules – you want to make it fun as well.
When other people post, you want to make them feel good and you want to make sure they feel heard. That's why it's a good idea to +1 other people's posts and comment on their posts. This is something I recommend no matter what type of community you’ve created. Google makes it easy with their +1 function. In fact, it can become kind of addictive to +1 other people's posts.
Especially in the beginning, it's a good idea to invite helpful and influential people to join your community. You can only invite 500 people at a time. To do this, open Google+ and select communities from a drop-down menu. Click on your community and click the gear icon. Then, click and invite people. In the Add A Comment box, you can add a little message to really entice people to join.
Hopefully, you can really fill your group with people who will love to join. In the beginning, it will be mostly up to you to rally people and keep the conversation going. If you have close friends and people you’ve networked with in your niche, you can privately ask them to help keep the conversation going as well. This is something your moderators can help you do and should help you do. They should understand the importance of this as well.
Sometimes, as with other types of communities, you may need to pin important posts. To do that, hover over a post and click the upside down carrot symbol. Simply click to pin the post.
Additionally, you can keep things interesting by posting pictures, which can really draw the eye. You can also pose questions and general updates. Remember to post things that will really get people interested-- things they may not have seen in their other groups or on their Google+ pages.
Make note of posts and things people really comment on and that get a lot of +1’s. This shows what people are most interested in. These hot topics are the ones that you should focus on and bring in more content about. Maybe you should even create a Hangout or some YouTube videos about these topics because people are so interested in them. People will tell you what they want and as the leader you need to pay attention to these things. Google+ communities can be great for marketplace research, that's for sure.
Make sure you keep up with the hottest topics, newest topics, breaking news, and more. Moderators can help you do this. Adding categories for posts can help keep things on track as well. You'll really get the feel for how to manage posts and your Google+ community over time.
Promoting Your Community
You can invite people to join your community. You can promote your community in many other ways as well. For instance, you can even promote your Google+ community on other social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Promote your community using any contacts you have. You can email your list about it, and so on.
If you've been circling people from your Google+ profile page and they've been circling you back, you can certainly invite related circles. There's no harm in doing that, but only if you’ve really started to develop a relationship and you’ve provided value on your Google+ profile page. Make sure it's appropriate in the circles you have and that they would respond positively.
One of the best ways to grow your Google+ community is to make sure your community is very active and make sure it is searchable. Over time, you will find that people in your niche seek you out and request to join. This is great, because it's self-generating growth. You're the leader and people will naturally seek your group out. Your audience will grow on its own over time. You just have to get over that hump of slower growth in the beginning.
You can also ask that excited members invite their friends. There's no harm in asking and since they already love your group, they will probably love to do it. You want to be so awesome and give so much value that people will want to join. You want to be that home people want to visit every single day. It's definitely something you can do with your Google+ community.
Social Marketing is About Community
Remember—social marketing is about community. Google+ is fantastic for community building and social marketing. Make sure the people of your niche hang out there, add this to your social marketing schedule, and put it to work for you.