If you’re like me, you sometimes find yourself defending Google+ to friends and colleagues who aren’t directly in marketing or social media. “But no one’s there,” they say. “You’re the only person I know who even has a Google+ account!” they say. “What am I going to look at,” they say.
OK, fair enough. Most people use social media only to see what their friends are up to, keep up with a jewelry line, stalk their crush or ex, or see pictures of their nieces and nephews. They aren’t going to find much on Google+ for them, and they certainly haven’t discovered Google Plus Communities. After all, the primary objective of social media for these users is to keep up with the people they already know (Facebook), follow with adoration or disdain the daily lives of celebrities (Twitter), and create dream lists of vacations and designs (Pinterest).
These are all reasonable objectives, but for those of us in marketing, we’re interested in people finding us. And there’s no question that from Authorship to “completing the circle”, Google+ is the greatest social network to happen to SEO since the beginning of the Internet. It’s full of like-minded individuals and brands that take the time to master the ins and outs of the platform.
Why Google Plus Communities?
My favorite part of Google+ is the Communities feature. Anyone can make a community. Some are private, some are invite/request only, some are public. The topics range from the professional (Business Analysts) to the silly (Joke of the Day), but there is a treasure trove of knowledge, resources, and information to be had in the many social media Communities. I’ve made a list of the five I find myself in the most, but first let’s talk about what they all have in common:
- Each has 1,500 to 5,000 members; enough to run the gamut of experience and leadership, but not so many that posts get lost or relationships are hard to build
- Each is very active: Many members post multiple times daily, and engagement is high
- Every one has at least 4 active moderators, and each takes his or her job seriously
- No spamming is allowed: No repeat linking to your own content without being an engaged member (in fact, posting to your own content is forbidden or frowned upon in many groups – you’re here to build relationships and gain knowledge)
- A variety of subcategories are available to easily navigate for what kind of information you’re looking for (or looking to share)
- Respect. The members of these communities respect each other, respect the work they do, and are there to help each other and themselves. Disrespect, snarky comments, or putting others and their ideas down are distinctly not allowed.
Don’t forget to contribute when you visit these Google+ Communities! Give posts +1’s, leave comments, ask questions.
15 subcategories. Topics include:
Theory, Trends, Social Media Strategy, Community Management, Social Media Blogs/Resources, SEO and Social, Digital Marketing, Social Analytics, Member Content Posts (this is the only section where posting to your own content is allowed, and it’s highly vetted)
Members are active and engaged; many post multiple times a day. It’s a great place to crowd-source an idea, get feedback on strategy, and discover new products and features.
It’s sister community, Social Media Strategy, has 13,559 members and goes into more depth about the technical side on community management with sections on Risk Management, SEO, and Web Design.
19 subcategories. Topics include:
Blogging, Content, Hangouts, Introduction with tips, and separate sections for each social media platform (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, Pinterest, and, of course, Google+).
Large enough to boast great ideas, links to new tools, hearty discussion on various topics, but small enough to get to know each other and build relationships.
Great place for analytics resources, targeted advice on issues with specific platforms, and blogging tips from avoiding spam comments to SEO incorporation.
11 subcategories. Topics include:
How-To Guides, Tips and Tricks, Marketing, Leadership, SEO Tips
A place for established leaders in the marketing and social media industry to discuss ideas. Because of the breadth of experience here, you’ll find more posts on social media as a integral part of an overall general marketing strategy.
In addition to the established leaders, many people new to social media management belong to the Community to take advantage of the resources and ideas within.
Has taken off so well they’ve recently decided to create a website and are looking for contributors.
5 subcategories. Topics are:
Google, Facebook, Analytics/ROI, Jobs, General Discussion
Calling itself a “test community,” it is highly focused on positivity and constructive discussion. Here you’ll find great resources for tracking ROI, and you’ll see a lot of SEO advice. There are talks about what great brands are doing right, and in-depth looks at missteps.
12 subcategories. Topics include:
Tools, Whitepapers / Guides, Social Content, Social Ads, separate sections for social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, even Reddit)
The CM&SM Community is the only one on this list with a dedicated section to promote yourself and your brand with links directly to your content – just make sure you are posting in the “Self-promo” section, and don’t just drop links and run. Engage!