Google have launched the brand new Google+ Communities service as a rival to Facebook groups. The launch was announced yesterday, however the pages only went live today. Perhaps not a game changer, Communities does however promise to increase engagement, +1's and interaction, with both the social network and the brands that use it, aspects of the social game that Google+ has thus far struggled to improve on despite its 500 million registered users.
Communities are very easy to set up and some have already said this may cause widespread proliferation early on, but like any new feature, new registrations will likely settle down quickly. It's crucial, however, for market leading brands (or those who aspire to be market leading brands) to get a presence on Google+ Communities established as soon as possible, or else risk your competitors doing it before you!
Below you'll find any easy guide to getting a community set up and promoting your community page.
As long as you have a Google+ account, you'll be able to start a community. There are already hundreds of communities for things like Photography and Cars, but still plenty of room to add new ones on more niche subjects.
Click on the Communities button to get started.
In the top right of the page is a red button marked "CREATE A COMMUNITY", click this.
You'll be presented with the box to the right, simply choose whether your community is to be open to anyone to join or a private group that you invite people to join.
Enter the name of your community and hit save. Don't worry, you can change this easily later.
Once the page is set up, you can then begin to edit it. There are four main areas to edit to get the most out of the page. Firstly, give your page a tag line, something punchy that gets peoples attention.
Pick a photo - something engaging, attractive and emotive if possible. If you are a brand, avoid using any company branding here, that goes on the brand pages, not on community pages.
Edit the description - again, keep it short but interesting and explain exactly what the community is about.
When the page starts up, you'll have one default category, "discussion". You can edit this title to anything you wish, but having a general discussion area is a good idea in any case. In addition, you should think about the topics within your community that are popular and set these as categories making it easier for people to post in the right place and save yourself a headache with moderating later on!
You're done, your page is now set up! Next up, make your first post in each category. Ideally you'll pop something up that explains what that category is for and then use the "lock post" feature to stop any comments on it.
The final thing to do is promote the page to attract new members. You can do this via your own circles, really useful if you already have people in circles around a certain subject. Don't forget to use other social platforms to promote it, email and places like Reddit too. Forums are also a great place to notify people of the new page.
In the short space of time since the announcement, some communities have grown to many thousands of users already. While it would be fair to say Google+ has resembled a ghost town to many people in the early part of it's life, Communities might just be the catalyst to encouraging wider sharing, better content and greater interaction.