Have you ever wondered why new users on Google Plus are often advised to join communities?
Quite simply, it is because Google Plus communities can be a great source of useful, relevant information and membership can lead to new connections, supportive relationships and increased engagement.
However, if you really want to get the most out of your G+ communities I have a few hints and tips that will help you to get the most from the G+ Communities that you join:
1. Read the Community Guidelines: most communities on Google Plus have a community description setting out details the topics, aims and purpose of the community, together with details of any community guidelines or rules about what constitutes an acceptable community post. Many communities have strict rules about what can, and what cannot be posted, and what is considered to be spam. The community may also have different categories for different types of posts. You should always read the community guidelines before posting into a community to ensure that your post to ensure that your post does not fall foul of any community rules. Following the community guidelines will ensure that your posts are not removed by the community moderator.
Top tip: check out the community description, guidelines, and posts, before joining to make sure that the community is right for you.
2. Say Hello! Most G+ communities have an ‘Introduce Yourself’ category to encourage new members to do just that: introduce yourself! However, this is not the time to launch into a ‘self-promotion’ post. Indeed, many communities specifically prohibit self-promotion in the ‘Introduce Yourself’ category and prohibit the posting of any links to your website or blog. Use the introductory post to say ‘hello’ to the other members, tell them briefly who you are and what you do, and perhaps say why you are looking forward to being a member of the community. In a nice, friendly, engaged community, you will often find that your ‘hello’ post will kickstart your community engagement as members come to welcome you.
Top tip: Your ‘hello’ post is the start of the conversation, not the end, so do acknowledge and engage with any members who take the trouble to welcome you into the community.
3. Engage with other members’ posts: One of the best ways to start building relationships on G+ in general, and in communities in particular, is to read and respond to other members’ posts. Take some time to read, +1 and comment on a few posts when you first join and you will quickly gain the attention of other members. In many communities the most useful information is often not contained within the posts themselves but in the members’ feedback and comments on the posts. Entering into conversations in the comments threads of posts is one of the most effective ways to engage, build relationships and demonstrate your own opinions and expertise in an area that it relevant to you.
Top tip: spend more time engaging on other posts than you spend posting your own content. If you establish yourself as a community ‘engager’ the community members are much more likely to engage on your posts.
4. Be friendly and supportive: this should go without saying but it is important to always be respectful of other members. If someone asks a question; give them an answer. If someone posts about an achievement or a success story; congratulate them. If you disagree with a point of view that’s fine but always put your opinion forward in a respectful way.
Top tip: the most popular community members are not always the people who post the killer content, but the people who are most supportive of others.
5. Build relationships by following community members: on the assumption that you have joined a community that is relevant to your own niche or interests, a community can be a very rich source of relevant people and pages that it would benefit you to add to your circles. Following members who post interesting content or who engage on your posts is an excellent way of adding relevant, interested engagers to your own circles.
Top tip: add the most engaged members of the community to your circles and build the relationship beyond the community by engaging on their public, as well as their community, posts. If members add you to their circles, always consider adding them back.
6. Be helpful, useful and relevant: when you post content into a community try to post content that is useful or helpful to the members of that community. If the community is based around a topic or particular interest, make sure that your post is relevant to the community. Ask questions: communities can be great places to ask for help, opinions or feedback from other members. Many communities have ‘Ask a Question’ categories an encourage questions from members as a way of starting discussions and an exchange of information.
Top tip: before posting to the community ask yourself if you would find the post interesting, useful or helpful if posted by another community member.
7. Don’t link drop: link dropping is posting a link to external content (e.g. a website article or blog post) without giving any reason why members would be interested in it. Some communities have a strict ‘no links’ rule but many others are happy for members to post links to either their own, or someone else’s, external content. However, you should always post an introduction to the link. Tell members what the link article is about, why they will find it interesting or why you are recommending that they read it.
Top tip: Even if your link contains valuable, helpful information that would be welcomed by community members, it is important to post an introduction to the post to avoid the post being caught by the Google Plus automatic community spam filters.
8. Don’t sell: G+ communities are not the place to try to sell your goods or services. Blatant self- or business-promotion is to be avoided. At best, such posts are likely to be ignored by other members and receive little or no engagement; at worst your post may be removed from the community as spam.
Top tip: if you have an important event or launch that you think would be relevant to a community, and you are unsure if it is appropriate to post, ask the community moderator if it is OK to submit the post to the community before posting.
9. Turn up regularly: To get the most out of any community you have to be a part of the community. This means turning up regularly, checking out and engaging on posts, welcoming new members, getting involved in discussions and building those all-important relationships. Make an effort to visit the community page regularly.
Top tip: if you want to be really active and engaged in a community turn the community notifications on. This allows you to receive a notification whenever someone posts to the community giving you the opportunity to check out the post and engage on it!
10. Choose the right communities: if you can think of a topic or interest there is a good chance that somebody will have created a G+ community relating to it! There are thousands of communities on Google Plus covering a wide range of topics and interests and you will almost certainly find yourself receiving invitations to join various communities within a short time of becoming active on the platform. Do not feel that you have to accept every community invitation. If you do, you will soon find yourself a member of lots of communities, many of which will have little or no relevance to your own interests. Choose your communities with care and join only those that really interest you. It is much better to be an active, interested member of a few communities than an inactive, disinterested member of lots of irrelevant communities.
Top Tip: Use the G+ search box to search for communities by topic, keywords or location to find communities that may be relevant and useful to you.
Do you have any top tips to add? Let me know by leaving me a comment below!
By Donna Beckett