Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest had a great 2012. They amassed plenty of active users, they've updated their usability features, and they've all climbed to the top of the business marketing avenue.
But Google Plus is refusing to be left from the spotlight.
The 6th of December 2012 marked the network's release of Google+ Communities, one of a series of updates geared towards making the social sharing site more upbeat and “cool” for the collective Internet audience.
This feature is somehow similar to Groups in LinkedIn and Facebook. It essentially helps members participate in public pseudo-forums, allowing them to filter their interests better.
Here is what it looks like in the flesh:
As you can see, this “tab” is featured prominently but is not invasive on your profile.
Google+ is a social network that gives members the privilege of choosing and making their own circles. This allows them leverage in organising people and brands, making it easier to give or withhold personal information. More importantly, you can control the updates and content you receive from business brands and icons.
To augment this feature, G+ launched Communities to make it easier for people to join and converse about specific topics. The “groups” you can create and participate range in scale and subject—from animals, TV shows, music groups, political issues, green advocacies, celebrity controversies, and more.
On these groups, users share info, post questions, give comments, and provide interesting updates to their “peers”. For instance, if you join a “Cooking Community”, most of the posts you will find are related to food, cooking, recipes, ingredients, how-tos, etc.
ARE PEOPLE BUYING INTO IT?
The 135 million active users each month have already explored Google Communities. And it's not hard to see why—it's easy to use, it's entertaining, and it increases our sense of “being part of a group”, which is exactly the reason why we're into social media in the first place.
HOW DO YOU START?
Once you've logged in to your Google+ account, you'll see an icon for “Communities” on the left rail of your profile, right below Hangouts, Events, and Photos. By clicking this button, you can enter a community or search for a topic that you're interested in.
Let’s say you are a devout fan of Game of Thrones, lucky for you, there are already a number of Communities dedicated to this epic fantasy HBO series, and it's fully up to you which ones you'll join. In fact, you can participate in ALL of them if you want to.
Once you're in the group, you can start exploring the content or sharing your own posts. Some groups are public, which means that you can join immediately without needing approval. However, some groups are private and require moderation from the admin or owner.
Community pages have customised categories to better organise the discussion. If you intend to post or share content, you will be prompted to choose a Category to filter your info. For instance, the Android Community allows users to post on “Fix my phone!”, “Hacking discussion”, or “Hello, world”.
If you are new to the group, categorising will help make your posts more visible!
Here's another perk that really makes social sharing more convenient. Some people wish to be notified of every single post in a group, while some don't. Either way, your notifications feature can be toggled on or off simply by pressing the Bell icon on your Community page.
THE LAST CHAPTER
Other web-based social sharing groups, like Reddit, 9gag, and LinkedIn, have become great platforms for sharing content and discovering trends.
“Communities” is Google Plus' response to shameless online promotions by business brands. Instead of letting users be ruled by brands who persistently advertise, members can participate in engaging topics and interact with other members whom they share a common interest with.
So, are you now convinced to join Google+ Communities?
About the Author:
Jonny Lis is a Digital Marketing Specialist at Smart Traffic, a private company based in Bristol offering SEO services in Australia, UK, and other countries. Jonny oversees SEO strategies for Smart Traffic's 300+ campaigns.