Start a Google+ Community

Google+ recently launched Communities, “a gathering place for all your passions” on their social network. Communities can be public or private and allow users to come together to share their thoughts, images, videos and opinions on any given topic.

Businesses using Google+ can actually create and host these Communities. It might be difficult as a smaller business to entice people to build an entire community around your products, but imagine the possibilities if you could position your company as a source of conversation, information and knowledge about the issue your product or service solves for customers. Therein lies the power in hosting a Google+ Community.

These new Communities are reminiscent of other social network gatherings like LinkedIn or Facebook Groups, yet they’re somehow unique and distinctly… Google.  Users can share information from their mobile or desktop, in a variety of media formats, and in real-time.

Hosts can even hold Google+ Hangouts within the community, enabling members to videochat about shared interests in real-time.

Ready to start a Google+ Community? Your business can host one in just 5 simple steps:

1. Sign in to your Google+ account and choose your Business Page ID if you are not already logged in as your company.

2. Click on the Communities button in the left vertical sidebar, beside the activity stream in Google+.

3. Click on either of the “Create a Community” buttons displayed (as shown above).

4. Choose “Public” or “Private” for your Community. In almost all cases where the purpose of your business hosting a community is to build your audience, you will choose Public. Decide whether anyone can join or if you will approve each new member.

5. Fill in the information requested by the Google+ Community set-up wizard. Communities cannot be changed from private to public (or vice versa) so there is no opportunity to keep it private until you are ready to write a description or add a tagline. For that reason, it is best to have your description prepared before you create the Community.

The Google+ Communities wizard tells new users what information is needed to start the Community.

Now, invite contacts from your Google+ Circles to join the Community. You can also promote it on your other channels, such as your company blog or Facebook Page. Post content to get the conversation started and encourage new members to participate by saying hello, asking questions, and introducing them to one another.

Have you joined or created a Google+ Community? Share your experience in the comments and learn more about Communities in Google's video, below!