Google+ had a big 2013. With over 1 billion registered users and 340 million active users, it is steadily gaining ground on Facebook. Part of its success is the result of the rapid adoption of Google+ Communities, which resemble instantly creatable, lightweight discussion forums and are full of prospects and potential followers.
Here are 10 reasons why you should use and build your own Google+ Communities:
Embrace User Created Content: Google+ Communities allow you to leverage a platform where your strategic partners and customers can share best practices, answer each other’s questions and share valuable information. In essence, you are creating a place where your stakeholders can interact with each other. For example, National Geographic is one of the most memorable and traditional brands that has a thriving Community. It is called Exploration, not National Geographic, and is dedicated to an open “community of people who share a joyful sense of adventure, a passion for exploration and discovery, a love of learning, and a desire to make a difference.”
Understand the mindset of your customers: By mining your Community’s content, you will gain a better understanding for how people talk about your company and its products. Their phrases and words can be incorporated into your marketing communications, your SEO, etc. I remember when I presented to Scott Cook, the Founder of Intuit. He would always say “don’t tell me the numbers, share the verbatim”. In other words, he wanted to know what were people saying and how they said it.
Drink Google Juice: According to Google, 97% of consumers search for local businesses online. By leveraging what you learn from Google+ Communities, you can determine the general sentiment of users on certain topics and identify keywords that can be used to have a positive impact on your SEO efforts. Google reportedly also favors Google+ content in search. With the number one search engine behind it, your Google+ business page and content will be indexed effectively. This alone makes quite the case for marketers looking for new brand visibility outlets.
Let the people speak for you: By letting your customers and business partners speak about and show their appreciation of your products with +1s and clicks, your brand will gain credibility. Google reports that ads using Google+ get about 5% more clicks because the addition of +1 button. This adds credibility to your brand because people trust recommendations from people they know. indicates a sign that the ad is trustworthy.” Authorship certifies a certain credibility that sets Google+ apart as well.
Establish Thought Leadership in the Industry: By having an open forum where people can express their opinions and share their experiences, you can become known for more than your product features or your brand name and logo. Your brand will be associated with thought leadership within a certain category. It will become a trusted voice within your industry.
Flexibility to create Private or Public Community: By setting up a private Community for your most avid customers and Power Users, you can create a VIP community of sorts. You can even have both a public and a private community and use the latter to demonstrate that ‘membership has it’s privileges.’ You can give your All-Stars direct access to employees, special content and unique offers. Several of my clients have a public community and a private community for their power users and AllStars. In a private community, they can be like the United Nations in a closed assembly, planning and voting on the future direction of their open Communities.
Generate leads: By implementing what I call implicit marketing tactics—link users to useful information on your site vs. highlighting a new product—you can drive traffic to a landing page and then launch visitors into your regular lead-generation process. Think of your Google+ Community as the top of the marketing funnel.
Enables you to segment content: By building out categories and using hashtags, you can filter your content and thus improve the discoverability of content. Users can just select the content they want much more quickly.
Launch an event: By leveraging Google+ Hangouts technology, you can broadcast (one broadcaster to many viewers) or conduct small town halls (many to many, up to 10 people at a time). From Google +, you can schedule events, send out updates, and provide guests and manage updates. Hangouts are increasingly becoming a valued asset in communities.
Ring around the Circles: By leveraging the Circles functionality, you can extend your network and segment and send customized messages to different groups of users. Once you have, you can then invite these segments into relevant communities. It is also a way for you track different types of content. For example, every morning, I check two circles I created: One for Small Business Influencers and one for Google+ Communities managed by Google employees.
Over time, Google will increasingly integrate it’s Google+ platform with the company’s other products and services. Today, Youtube and Photos work nicely with Google+, making the social network more dynamic, engaging and attractive for users. Tomorrow, we will see even more ways to build Google+ Communities into Google’s offerings. Therefore, if you want to be ahead of the curve, you need to jump on the Google+ Community bandwagon (passenger train) now.