Essential? Really? In my opinion, yes, Google+ Communities are essential if you want to -
- have your work seen by like-minded people
- meet and network with targeted audiences
- get more Google search ‘juice’ for your posts and images
- maximize time spent on social media
Let me back up a minute. One year ago, nearly to the day, I started writing about Google+. A year ago I knew very little but I tried to translate ‘geekspeak’ so I could understand how to use Google+. My goal then, as it is now, is to help fellow bloggers understand and utilize Google+.
Google+ is much more than a social network. It’s a ‘layer’ of Google that, when used fully, can increase your blog traffic. Not to mention, it offers wonderful ways to connect with your readers/followers, as I experienced last week while teaching a live online painting class.
But today I want to focus on the benefits of Google+ Communities and why they are worth investing our oh-so precious and limited time. This isn’t a post on how to join or start a community. I’ll probably write that later. For now you can read some great tutorials by Mashable and Social Media Examiner, two of my favorite social media sites.
For me, I want to know the benefits of something before I jump in with both feet. At least, I try to after 3+ years of blogging. There are just too many things to do and not enough hours in the day.
Just a precursor on Communities – they’re new, launched on December 6, 2012. Many people, myself included, quickly jumped in with both feet, and started Communities, without fully understanding the working or implications. Now, a few short weeks later, many have been abandoned by the founders – like mine – as the reality of yet another online task and commitment set in.
After reading many G+ posts and articles, I’ve realized the potential Communities hold for creative bloggers. Which is why I’m starting with Communities today, rather than at the beginning. That will come, but later.
1. Have Your Work Seen By Like-Minded People in Google+ Communities
When we share our work on social media, we have no idea who will see it, short of Facebook groups, Twitter lists or G+ circles. As long as someone sees it, right?
But wait – wouldn’t it be nice if people who share your interests get to see/read your work? Wouldn’t that increase the potential for readers/followers and lower your bounce rate?
I’m not saying the goal of Communities is to increase your blog traffic. But they do have that potential, especially if you’re interacting with others who share the same interests that you frequently blog about.
2. Meet & Network with Targeted Audiences
This is pretty much the same as above except for one thing – you have to actually go to the Community and interact. ahem. (note to Self here.)
Sure, you can meet & network on your blog or other social media. Sort of. G+ Communities exceed that networking level because of these options:
In any Community you can add categories to help channel discussions. This pic shows my Home Décor Community. If I want to see what’s been shared recently on Kids & Baby Room, I just click on that category. If I’m sharing something on a particular topic, I tag it with that category.
By the way, Community categories are also available under your main G+ “Share” button. You don’t need to enter your Community in order to share; just click on your dropdown menu and choose a Community and/or category.
Another level of engagement is the ability to hangout within a Community. Let’s say you have a home décor dilemma you’d like input about. Sure, you can post a written question or upload a still photo, but you could also get a few Community friends to hop on a hangout with you and show them your dilemma (or accomplishment!) via live video. Or teach even teach a class! ahem.
I’ve yet to do a Community hangout but I can see huge potential for them. More on these to come.
You can not only target your audience with Communities, you can also go a step further with categories. Nice, huh?
3. Get More Google ‘Juice’ For Your Posts & Images
The primary reason I recommend Google+ for bloggers is to increase your google ranking. More to come on that too. (yes, I have loads to write, I realize.) But here’s what I really like about G+ Communities -
Your posts are indexed almost immediately by Google Search.
Hello? How nice to spend time socializing and networking and have those posts picked up by google search! Now, that is only if the Community is Public. If you are in a Private group everything remains private. So, no worries if you want to keep certain things within a group. But the majority of what I share is about my work – either paintings or Google+ – so this is a great feature.
4. Maximize Time Spent on Social Media
This actually goes back to getting more google ‘juice’. The time you spend on Facebook might be fun but does it increase your google ranking? No. While you might get some pageviews via Facebook, their algorithm has changed and changed, and changed again, to now we’re down to maybe 10% viewership for each post or photo.
If you’re like me, your time is limited so you need to maximize every minute you spend online. Communities allow you to post, share, engage, all with the potential of that interaction supporting your google ranking.
I’ll take that, thank you.
Okay, so those are four reasons why I think Google+ Communities are essential for creative bloggers. Now the question arises, how do I find Communities that I’ll like and can reap these benefits?
Search in Google+ Communities
It’s actually really simple to search for Communities.
In Google+ type in an interest or topic in the search bar.
When that phrase reloads, you’ll see a dropdown menu “Everything”.
Click on “Everything” and you’ll have the option to search that phrase in various G+ areas. Which, btw, is also very helpful if you’re searching for plussers who have posted something on the topic as well.
Click on Communities and you’ll find any Community that has posts related to your search. Poke around a bit and decide if you want to join or not.
Now, I won’t deny that Communities take time. They do. And I still need to earmark some time each day for mine -
Just keep in mind that there are benefits to G+ Communities and they’re not only a great way to meet new people, your time there is potentially well spent.
I’ll get into all the ‘nuts and bolts’ of navigating Communities soon. For now, a few tips.
If you start your own Community, leave notifications on. You’ll want to monitor posts until it gets going. Communities are prone to spammers. Leaving Notifications “on” helps you get rid of them. However, if you have an active community, you’ll have loads of emails too. It just goes with the territory.
The notification icon is right under the Community photo in the left sidebar.
If you join a Community, turn Notifications “off”. Unless you particularly enjoy your email inbox being bombarded.
One more tip: you can easily see the latest activity on your communities at a glance.
Hover your mouse over the Communities icon in the G+ left menu. The most often used Communities will pop up and show you the number of posts since you were last there.
So that’s my opinions for why Google+ Communities are important for creative bloggers. I’m knee-deep in posts and video tutorials for G+ so if you have any questions, let me know.
Or you can always join my G+ for Creative Blogger Community!
Have you joined any? Or started your own G+ Community? Let me know in the comments so I can swing by and check it out!