Google Plus communitiesGoogle+ communities are less than a year old but they are becoming an important and powerful feature of Google+. As interest in the social platform has grown so has the number of Google+ communities, there are now over 100,000 communities.

Google+ communities allow you to develop or participate in a community around a specific shared interest. The communities work much like a LinkedIn group where you can share and interact with other members of the community. You can easily create your own Google+ community to create awareness around your brand, develop your authority in your industry and engage with potential customers. Google+ communities are growing at a faster rate than groups on other platforms and are likely to become a key way to engage potential customers in the future. I think this faster growth is in part due to the wider Google eco-system but also due to important differences in the way communities work.

The Google+ Community Difference

The are a number of specific differences and advantages in the way Google+ communities work compared to other platforms. Below are some of the features I like personally:

  1. Posts with a Google+ community can receive 'plus ones' from other members and can also be reshared to circles or other communities. 
  2. Posts within a community are indexed by Google and will be found in organic search results. The posts can also gain and pass page rank.   
  3. A really nice feature of Google+ posts to a community is that you can edit them at any time. 
  4. You can use hashtags within a post content to tie posts to specific searches on the platform.
  5. By default everything you share with a community is also shared to your main public page but you can change this setting, to enable you to share something with a specific community that doesn't appear on your profile page.
  6. With Google+ communities you can view posts in a specific community stream rather than your main stream. These posts are much more focused as you would expect, often I switch to a community stream rather than my main stream to focus on say the latest Google+ news posts. 
  7. In Google+ communities there is also the ability to create categories and allow posts to be allocated to these specific categories. These categories can then be displayed individually.
  8. Interaction within the community is the most valuable feature of Google+ communities. Through this interaction with other community members you can also improve your own personal ranking, especially if you interact with highly ranked individuals and they share your content.
  9. As with LinkedIn and other groups members can comment on posts. Also by using an individual's plus name in the comment such as +steverayson that person can be notified of the mention.
  10. A feature that I like is that you can only share a post with one community and not post simultaneously to multiple communities. You also can't share to a community and circles at the same time. I think this helps reduce multiple postings.
  11. With Google Ripples you can create an interactive graphic to see how a post is shared and reshared across the network over time. You can also share the interactive graphic by copying the URL and sharing it in your stream.
  12. Google+ communities do suffer as do LinkedIn and other communities from link dumping and spam. However, with Google+ you can report spam with a single click and also block a user so you no longer see their posts in your stream. Thus managing spam and blocking content from users is an easier task.

Google+ Communities Still Improving

Whilst Google+ communities are not perfect, they are improving all the time and new features are being added continually.

The community also provides lots of useful tips. For example, some people complain they can't find posts again easily and would like to be able to bookmark posts. There is a work around for this. You can create your own circle with no one in it, then when you want to keep something to read later you can share the post with your bookmark circle.

Looking ahead there are dangers. One is the danger that everyone will create their own Google+ community and the platform will be swamped with many duplicate communities. Another danger is that poorly moderated communities will just become places where people post links rather than engage with the community. However, the early evidence is that Google+ will provide a powerful platform for communities and there are already some good examples of growing communities with high levels of engagement. I have listed below ten of my favourites.

Ten Google Plus Communities You Should Check Out

The G+ Resource  

The G+ Resource is a community that discusses all things Google Plus, as well as related Google services. It is a great place to start to learn more about G+ or to ask questions.

Google Plus Pro Tips  

This is great community run by Jesse Wojdylo. This community is focused on getting the most out of your Google+ account. Everyone is very willing to help each other learn every single facet of Google+, and help each other solve any problems that may come up. 

Google Authorship and Author Rank  

Google Authorship is increasingly important to any content marketing strategy. It allows content creators to connect their content from across the web to their Google+ profiles. This community is the place to keep up to date with developments and news; and to ask questions.

Social Media Professionals 

This is a dedicated and active group of moderators keen to make sure this community doesn't turn into a community where there is spam and low engagement. Thus it is a request only community. This community discusses topics related to working in or with social media.

Social Media Strategy 

This is a sister community to "Social Media Professionals".  The Social Media Strategy community discusses news and business strategies centered around social media. This goes beyond marketing and can include product life cycle management, customer care, HR, market research, and innovation.

LinkedIn for Business  

This community is focused on how businesses can and do use LinkedIn. I am personally convinced that LinkedIn is one of the other key B2B marketing platforms in addition to Google+ so there is lots to learn here.

Content Marketing World 

This community is focused around an annual event - Content Marketing World. This takes place in September and brings together the largest global group of marketers and content experts. This community acts a forum for discussion open to all those attended and those interested in content marketing.

Content Marketing and Social Media 

There is quite a lot of link sharing in this community and less engagement than some of the others but it is useful for the latest news and posts on content marketing and social media.

SEO and Website Design 

This is one of many SEO communities on Google+ and a good place to keep up to date and discuss developments.

Anders Pink B2B Marketing

Finally, this is a community I recently established to explore, share and discuss the latest thinking on B2B marketing with no sales pitches or commercial posts. Anders Pink is a community of B2B marketers and doesn't sell any services. The aim of the community is to curate a set of high quality articles, case studies and resources to support all of us involved in B2B marketing. 

The number of communities on Google+ will continue to grow so explore and find the ones that work for you. You can search the communities directly on Google+ and also use sites such as Circle Count, that highlights popular and active communities.  

If you are going to set up and manage a Google+ community there is a useful community owner guide from Andrij Harasewych.

I would love to hear about your favourite Google+ communities, please share examples in the comments below.

(Google Plus Communities / source)