Google+ had a big 2013. With over 1 billion registered users and 340 million active users, it is steadily gaining ground on Facebook. Part of its success is the result of the rapid adoption of Google+ Communities, which resemble instantly creatable, lightweight discussion forums and are full of prospects and potential followers.
Here are 10 reasons why you should use and build your own Google+ Communities:
Embrace User Created Content: Google+ Communities allow you to leverage a platform where your strategic partners and customers can share best practices, answer each other’s questions and share valuable information. In essence, you are creating a place where your stakeholders can interact with each other. For example, National Geographic is one of the most memorable and traditional brands that has a thriving Community. It is called Exploration, not National Geographic, and is dedicated to an open “community of people who share a joyful sense of adventure, a passion for exploration and discovery, a love of learning, and a desire to make a difference.”
Understand the mindset of your customers: By mining your Community’s content, you will gain a better understanding for how people talk about your company and its products. Their phrases and words can be incorporated into your marketing communications, your SEO, etc. I remember when I presented to Scott Cook, the Founder of Intuit. He would always say “don’t tell me the numbers, share the verbatim”. In other words, he wanted to know what were people saying and how they said it.
Drink Google Juice: According to Google, 97% of consumers search for local businesses online. By leveraging what you learn from Google+ Communities, you can determine the general sentiment of users on certain topics and identify keywords that can be used to have a positive impact on your SEO efforts. Google reportedly also favors Google+ content in search. With the number one search engine behind it, your Google+ business page and content will be indexed effectively. This alone makes quite the case for marketers looking for new brand visibility outlets.
Let the people speak for you: By letting your customers and business partners speak about and show their appreciation of your products with +1s and clicks, your brand will gain credibility. Google reports that ads using Google+ get about 5% more clicks because the addition of +1 button. This adds credibility to your brand because people trust recommendations from people they know. indicates a sign that the ad is trustworthy.” Authorship certifies a certain credibility that sets Google+ apart as well.
Establish Thought Leadership in the Industry: By having an open forum where people can express their opinions and share their experiences, you can become known for more than your product features or your brand name and logo. Your brand will be associated with thought leadership within a certain category. It will become a trusted voice within your industry.
Flexibility to create Private or Public Community: By setting up a private Community for your most avid customers and Power Users, you can create a VIP community of sorts. You can even have both a public and a private community and use the latter to demonstrate that ‘membership has it’s privileges.’ You can give your All-Stars direct access to employees, special content and unique offers. Several of my clients have a public community and a private community for their power users and AllStars. In a private community, they can be like the United Nations in a closed assembly, planning and voting on the future direction of their open Communities.
Generate leads: By implementing what I call implicit marketing tactics—link users to useful information on your site vs. highlighting a new product—you can drive traffic to a landing page and then launch visitors into your regular lead-generation process. Think of your Google+ Community as the top of the marketing funnel.
Enables you to segment content: By building out categories and using hashtags, you can filter your content and thus improve the discoverability of content. Users can just select the content they want much more quickly.
Launch an event: By leveraging Google+ Hangouts technology, you can broadcast (one broadcaster to many viewers) or conduct small town halls (many to many, up to 10 people at a time). From Google +, you can schedule events, send out updates, and provide guests and manage updates. Hangouts are increasingly becoming a valued asset in communities.
Ring around the Circles: By leveraging the Circles functionality, you can extend your network and segment and send customized messages to different groups of users. Once you have, you can then invite these segments into relevant communities. It is also a way for you track different types of content. For example, every morning, I check two circles I created: One for Small Business Influencers and one for Google+ Communities managed by Google employees.
Over time, Google will increasingly integrate it’s Google+ platform with the company’s other products and services. Today, Youtube and Photos work nicely with Google+, making the social network more dynamic, engaging and attractive for users. Tomorrow, we will see even more ways to build Google+ Communities into Google’s offerings. Therefore, if you want to be ahead of the curve, you need to jump on the Google+ Community bandwagon now.
Earlier this week, I sent a Brandwatch research study to my brother, who manages a radio station, about the importance of Twitter. The report indicated that radio stations do not interact with their fans enough, and instead are stuck in the old paradigm of just blasting and broadcasting their message with their traditional one way approach.
The Brandwatch study also highlighted the fact that 75% of their interactions are with celebrities and brands (who pay the advertising dollars) and not their fans. The most important (and probably obvious fact to most people) is that people follow the personalities on the radio more than the station itself.
Even with the opportunity to highlight their DJs and newscasters more, most stations do not have specific goals and strategies for leveraging social networks. While they may be on it and posting a tweet here and there, they’re not optimizing their social media presence. This number increases substantially more when you consider how many don’t know how to operationalize their social efforts.
To get started, here is a basic checklist on how to operationalize your social efforts:
Set up your primary account and keep your password information in a safe place. Also, don’t let your digital agency or PR firm set up your account. Make sure one of your employees is the lead person and manager of the account in case there are any conflicts. Note, however, that you should make sure that employee shares all info with you and signs a legal document stating they will turn over the account when then leave. There will probably be no issues about this if the employee uses your company domain account
Organize Team and Identify Moderators: Use the DACI approach with clarity around who is the Driver (project manager) of the project, the Approver (who owns the budget in most cases) of the project, the Collaborators of the project (moderators) and who needs to be Informed. While it might be a cost to hire your moderators before launching, getting them on board early can help set up some of the infrastructure you need to build a successful social network presence. For example, they can create a stockpile of back up posts and also be involved in establishing the tone and spirit
Document the tone and spirit of your posts and tweets: Most mature and established companies have documented their brand positioning and how they want to communicate their brand to their customers. It’s more beneficial to do this early on, rather than blindly posting and tweeting. Even smaller companies should take some time to think this through.
Build out your page: Appearance is important, even on social networks. While you’re thinking about your brand positioning, the aesthetics of your page should play a role too. Leverage company branding, photography and graphics guidelines. You should have a cohesive look and feel across all your pages.
Create a content calendar: Build a content calendar for each social network (and their pages) that you manage. Throwing up posts last minutes can lead to too many issues. Vice versa, planning too far ahead won’t allow you you to factor in recent newsworthy topics. Ideally, you want the calendar to cover all content for at least two weeks into the future. You can plan for a longer period of time, but I have found that it is often difficult to plan too far down the road.
Create a stockpile of back up posts: There are some posts, such as standard customer service posts or event announcements or welcome posts, that you will post/tweet over and over again. You might as well have a stockpile of them ready to go.
Identify tools: The cost of good social media tools is quite minimal these days. Many of them are even free. I recommend that you have at least three types of tools ready to go: a posting tool (Hootsuite or Sproutsocial, a listening tool (Radian6 or Social Mention) and an analytics tool (Twitonomy).
Create Rules of Engagement, Workflow Process and Answer Decision Tree: List out desired response times, the type of posts you will respond to, and all potential issues. Then try and place them into categories and assign and and owner to each of them. You’ll be able to be quantify how successful you are by setting these rules.
Outreach to relevant influencers and followers: I am big on focus, focus, focus. Don’t try and boil the whole ocean and sign up as many followers as possible. It’s about quality, not quantity. I recommend reaching out to people who would have a vested interest in your products, services or offerings.
Focus on a few critical metrics: There are so many different metrics to track on a social network. Concentrate on 3-5 levers, establish a benchmark, measure your success against them and keep raising the bar. Make your goals more challenging. Hold each person on the team accountable for these goals. Social Media is a team sport.
Executing well on the above ten areas will increase a radio stations or your probability of success. Remember, it takes a while to build an audience. Remember that Rome was not built in a day and neither is a social presence. Unless you are Nike or Madonna, it might take time to build your presence and generate a high degree of engagement on a social network’s page that you manage. The keys are to be persistent and consistent.