Social Marketing: Google+ Communities for Engagement
While many businesses are focusing the bulk of their social media efforts on Facebook, Twitter and perhaps LinkedIn (with dashes of Pinterest thrown in), Google+ has lots of potential that remains for the most part untapped. Now that recent rumors of the supposed impending demise of Google+ have apparently been shot down, this is a good time to consider how Google+ might work into your strategy.
One of the best ways for businesses to take advantage of Google+ is by creating communities. The potential payoff could be well worth the effort. Google+ communities are viewed as a great way to build and grow a loyal following, which is after all one of the ultimate goals of any marketing strategy.
If you haven’t already created a community in Google+, it is very easy to do. You simply click the “create community” button in your brand page dashboard. Then you just decide whether you want your group to be public or private, and give it a name. After setting a few preferences, you’re all ready to go.
You want to take some time to plan your communities before you actually create them, though. Think about the topics that your customers (and target customers) would be most interested in talking about. Obviously, you will usually want to keep it from being too blatantly self-promotional, but by focusing on subjects that relate to your products or industry, you will likely find many opportunities where you (or better yet, your customers) can mention your brand or products organically.
Creating a community is only half the equation, of course. Then you actually have to get people to join in and participate. You can invite people directly to join your community, or be a bit more subtle by just adding a community button to your website, blog or the signature of your emails.
Once people are there, they need a reason to stick around. This means you have to share interesting content or start (or encourage) compelling discussions. While it is fine for you to start some of the discussions, and you should always be available to jump in and answer questions or address concerns, ideally you also want some of your customers and other community members to take an active role in launching or expanding conversations.
Prompt community members to start engaging with each other and forming their own interactions. This keeps them engaged and makes them more likely to come back regularly. Look for opportunities where you can invite your customers to share their experiences, or give advice as to how to best use your company’s products or services. Your categories can serve as an effective catalyst for discussions, as they guide people into potential topic areas. (This is why you should choose your categories wisely and revisit them regularly to see if you need to make any changes or additions.)
Obviously, one of the huge advantages that Google+ offers is the ability to easily integrate other Google tools. Hangouts, for example, are great ways to host events or real-time discussions.
You can also participate in other communities to help raise more awareness for your brand and establish your expertise, but again this must be done with a light touch so as to avoid looking spammy.
KEO Marketing handles all aspects of social media marketing for our clients, and we’d be happy to help you identify the best strategies for your business.