A Google+ Community: Missed Opportunity for Many Brands
Despite the rumors of Google+ and its demise due to changes internally at the company and to the platform itself, it still remains one of my favorites to use on social media with its extremely active communities and high levels of engagement. I find it shocking how so many companies invest hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars each year on Facebook and Twitter, but neglect to build a Google+ community. Aside from the huge SEO benefits of posting to Google+ (this is Google we’re talking about), one of most important reasons why brands should integrate Google+ into their social media marketing strategy is simply the effectiveness of growing a brand by creating your own G+ community or by engaging consumers through already existing communities.
ImagiBrand’s Fashion Community on Google+
Being a social media agency, ImagiBrand decided to start their own fashion community on Google+ back in early 2013. To be completely candid, we had no idea what to expect, nor did we have any expectations for whether or not the community would take off. To our surprise, the popularity of the fashion community grew at an incredible pace. In about a span of five years, the community has grown to more than 192K members.
What has been even more exciting than the member growth of our Google+ community, is the high number of views and high-level of engagement each fashion post receives in the community. It didn’t take long for influential figures in the fashion world to take notice of the community. Fashion icons such as Glamour Magazine and The Zoe Report partnered with us to promote upcoming fashion events. Every month, our social media agency is contacted by a fashion brand or lifestyle blogger seeking prime advertising real estate through the pinning of their posts atop the community to get maximum visibility.
9 Tips for Growing a Google+ Community
It’s funny how things rarely work out exactly the way you plan it. When we started this community, we thought maybe it would eventually become a good marketing outlet to raise brand awareness for our own fashion clients. To our surprise, the Google+ community became the ultimate content marketing strategy, acting as a magnet for more fashion clients.
While the pace by which the fashion community grew was surprising, the success of the community was not serendipitous. It took a great deal of effort. It took commitment. It took strategy. A brand cannot just build a community page and simply expect people to show up. The following are 10 tips we’ve learned along the way to our 42K+ members.
Tip #1: Keep Your G+ Community Attractive by Moderating Posts
This sounds like an obvious tip, but it’s way too common to find communities on Google+ that have gained huge membership numbers, but the community owner or moderator fails to actually moderate the activities within the community. As a result, the community becomes full of spam posts. There is no easier way to lose members than to allow your content to become diluted by low-quality posts that are blatant ads. While active communities need daily moderation (if not hourly), I highly recommend moderating your community at the very least once a week.
Tip #2: Ask Questions of Your Google+ Community
Why grow a niche community around a brand, industry and/or passion and not actually make use of the power that comes with having a forum at your fingertips? Your Google+ community can be utilized in a similar way as any online forum out there – a great place to post questions and receive opinions, suggestions, and recommendations from a plethora of other aficionados, experts, and influencers in your field.
Tip #3: Build Google+ Community Loyalty through Comments
For nearly every social media channel that exists, engagement is usually one of the key factors for growth. Google+ communities are no different. Members of the community want to know that there is a real person moderating and will show loyalty when they are able to converse with the moderator or owner of the community. Personally, there is no bigger a turn-off than when I take the time to upload something to a community or spend time commenting on a post, and never receive any feedback. If you want your members to return, actively post and respond to your posts, then it’s a wise practice to respond to as many posts and comments as possible being a moderator or owner of the community. Obviously, it’s nearly impossible to respond to everything, and some posts don’t warrant a response, but doing your due diligence when it comes to responding will help build community loyalty.
Tip #4: Create Polls to Engage Your Community on a Daily Basis
Google+ polls were first introduced back in October of 2014 and have become a fun and easy way to foster engagement with members of your community. As with any community, you have a wide range of daily contributors. Some like to post images or blog links, some just like to leave comments and some only feel comfortable leaving +1s on posts and comments. Presenting daily polls satisfies nearly every type of community contributor, giving them the opportunity to express their opinion and show their support.
Tip #5 Use High-Quality Images to Grow Your Google+ Members
It’s a good practice to always try and post high-quality images and encourage your community to follow suit. If you allow pictures with low-resolution to be posted, new visitors to your community page may become turned off and decide not to join. Google+ is a very visual platform where good photography and graphics take center stage. Quality images are not only rewarded with +1s, they get shared onto people’s individual Google+ profiles and in other relevant communities throughout Google+. There is no better way to grow your community than through social shares giving credit back to your community.
Tip #6: Post Consistently on Google+ to Gain More Visibility
Especially in the infancy of your community, it is vitally important to make sure your community doesn’t look like a ghost town. You must consistently make several posts throughout the day with appropriate hashtags so that there is content to be found by the people searching for it. Your initial members will more than likely be joining to show a sign of support for your efforts. It takes time to find your more active members that will become your serial posters each and every day. Be patient. In the meantime, community posts will be your responsibility until the community takes steam and you’ll transition from being one who posts to one who spends more time moderating the posts of others.
Tip #7: Promote Your Google+ Community on Your Brand and Personal Pages
One of the best places to promote your community is on your very own Google+ personal profile and brand page. Google+ allows you to feature your communities on the front right side of your pages which is the prime real estate for attracting new members.
Tip #8: Mention Influential People in Your Google+ Posts
Building relationships with influential people and brands on Google+ only help validate the credibility of your community and helps give it that much-needed boost in visibility. You can mention influential people in a post and they’ll see it, even if you’re not in one of their circles. It’s great if the mentioned influencer acknowledges the post with a +1 or a comment, but that’s not the only incentive for mentioning the influential brand. Communities love to chat about specific brands and specific products. Influential mentions are simply natural engagement generators.
Tip #9: Produce a Google Hangout on Air to Showcase Expertise
A Google Hangout on Air (HOA) is the perfect platform to allow your existing community members and beyond to see a face and hear a voice behind the online curtain. It presents a unique opportunity to further educate customers about your brand and inform them about new products, services or changes to your brand. There is no better way to establish your brand as a thought leader in your industry than by showcasing your passion and expertise through a live online broadcast.
A Google+ community won’t grow overnight. They need a moderator that is passionate about the subject and consistent with posting content and using a variety of tactics to attract attention and engage members. Done correctly, Google+ communities can open up an entirely new world of marketing opportunities for your brand.