Last week, the Google Plus team announced the launch of Google Plus Communities, their solution to bringing the G+ audience together into pockets of shared interests.
Within 24 hours, hundreds of niche communities (both private and public) sprung up on the platform; covering everything from cooking to music to space. Whether you’re a geek, freak or hipster, there is something for you. But what does this mean for Google users and – more specifically – for brands?
What’s in it for users?
For the user, it’s simple: finding like-minded people to connect with on the social network. To date, it’s been a little challenging to navigate the void of Google Plus. While the platform has more than 400 million registered users, only about 100 million are active. And that means that many of us who use the platform on a regular basis, may be the early adopter in our social graph. Now we can find commonalities with “plusers” across the globe through a shared passion.
Many are likening Communities to Facebook Groups, but there are differences. Facebook Groups are now used primarily as organizational hubs for closed pockets of people. For example: sports teams that want to share team information, or planning committees that are putting on an event. Meanwhile, Google Plus Communities appear to be mainly public and open to anyone with an interest in the discussion topics.
After several days of playing in the Communities sandbox, I like what I’m seeing. Close to home, we are nurturing a Vancouver Community. One of my favourite communities thus far is tied to my personal passion: Skiing & Snowsports Community. This is a thriving group of more than 1,000 skiers and riders who post info about ski resorts, upcoming mountain-related events and photos/video. This Community is where I found out about the upcoming Google Hangout series with pro skiers and riders participating in the action sports competition, Dew Tour.
All the ingredients for passionate engagement are there in these new gathering places. Communities are easily discoverable through search. Engagement thus far appears high and notifications ensure users keep coming back to the platform. Group video chat opportunities offered up by Google Hangouts can add another dimension to crowd participation. I envision even more group cooking classes, concerts and training sessions taking place via Hangout in Communities.
What’s in it for brands?
For brands, the benefit is simply joining the conversation. I’ve always said that social media is just that – social. And the development of an engaged and sustainable community is a major part of building brand engagement, which eventually leads to an army of ambassadors who will advocate and support your brand.
By facilitating or participating in these interest groups, brands can strengthen their bond by educating potential customers, and solidifying relationships with existing ones.
6S Marketing has created our own community “6S Marketing Internet Chat”. Within 20 minutes the community had 14 new members. We would love to continue building this community with the goal of sharing dialogue with like-minded people on the topics of SEM, digital strategy and social media.
What do you think about Google Plus Communities? Let us know on Google Plus!