Google+ has just launched Communities which allows Google+ users to connect around common interests. The Google+ Communities feature is similar to LinkedIn and Facebook groups but integrates all the existing Google+ features such as Hangouts, video sharing, photo sharing and the ability to edit posts after they are live.
There are two types of communities: public communities and private communities, and each type operates in one of two ways. Public communities can either be completely open or available by invitation only, and all content is indexed by Google and discoverable when searching the web or Google+ itself. Private communities can be discoverable by search or completely private, open to only those who know the URL of the community. Once a user has joined a community, Google+ uses that preference to suggest other communities the user might like.
Within a community, users can plan events, start hangouts and post content. Community discussions can be segmented into categories, enabling users to follow only those streams that most interest them. People can post to communities from within the community stream, from within their personal profile stream or from anywhere there is a +1 button.
The Communities feature has a number of benefits for content marketers. First, it allows them to connect with people who have expressed an interest in the topic they plan to cover. Since users expressly opt in to communities, brands and content creators won’t have to guess who’s interested in what they offer and can tailor their message to suit the group. Another potential benefit is the ability to set up a private group of influencers in a particular sphere and share targeted content with that group. This could cut down on the noise experienced on other platforms such as Twitter. Google+ Communities also help content creators to demonstrate their subject expertise to their audience.
The other major benefit comes from the tool’s tight integration with other Google services. Communities’ search discoverability provides additional opportunities for people to find and connect with content producers. And with Google integrating more of its services into Google+, the Communities feature could be a game-changer both for content producers and the social network itself.
Image source: Wikimedia Commons.