With the launch of Google+ community pages less than 2 days ago, we have seen many already spring up.
So, what are Google+ community pages?
A community is a group discussion forum, much like a message board. Unlike a message board though, communities are integrated with your Google+ stream depending on whether they’re public or private. A community page allows any member to post within that community. This allows for more centralized discussions on any given topic, rather than interacting on various posts in the stream that may be about a certain subject.
Content that would otherwise be hitting the Google+ streams will have a ‘home’ in that community (and even under topic categories). So no matter what you are into, you are likely to find a niche community where you can post and interact with like minded people.
I have set some up as been testing it out as well and here are a few thoughts about the overall context…
Public vs Private Communities
Firstly, what does having different types of access mean for the community page?
Public – anyone can find the community page, two options…
a) Public – no approval needed
b) Public – but an owner/moderator needs to approve membership
So, this may well be important when considering the significance of ‘not approving’ people.
Private – (can be hidden in searches, or not)
This means membership needs approval.
An owner can invite people from their list (e.g. their circles from a profile or page, public, etc)
Note: if you send out an invite as ‘owner’ or ‘moderator’ then the invited people do not need to be moderated. Other members can invite people, but it will require the owner or the moderator’s approval.
You currently cannot change the settings once you choose – so you may like to think it through!
Also note that posts made in a private community are not found in searches (by non members); public communities they are searchable i.e. people are who are not members will see the content.
I was once told by a community leader that you can only really have deep relationships with a maximum of about 120 people, so you may also like to consider the benefits of building a large community vs. a smaller select one (i.e. private/not in search will most likely lead to a smaller one). Interestingly, decisions relating to the Commoogle community noticeboard type page have prompted much of this enquiry today!
Starting a Community with a Google+ Page
A decision whether to use a profile or a page will need to be made, but ownership could be transferred later on. You could even step down as owner, pass to a moderator, and then the moderator pass back to you.
Note: if you set it up from a Page e.g. Commoogle, the content from discussions will appear on the Commoogle page, and whoever has the rights to access will see them. If you set it up from your Profile, such comments would then appear on your page, just like a limited post.
Multiple community pages
Just like a Profile, a Google+ Page can also have multiple communities – this will give the opportunity for ‘levels’ of access as well e.g. paid private membership clubs could be set up. This is something that could be very interesting if/when Google checkout becomes integrated and could be worth considering when making your decisions if setting up a commercially oriented one now.
Same as usual in terms of adding images/links etc.
You can, however choose categories and these will be critical for further differentiating the posts. Looking through several communities today, it will take a few more days yet for these to really come into play!
Posts default to ‘discussion’ – which is a bit like the ‘main stream’ for the community but it categories have been set up, then people can post/discuss within these categories. If you are looking at setting them up, it may be an idea to chat with other people and get some ideas about what they want. I did this on a UK page and it was insightful.
You can send a message the same as you do a post.
If it is a public post you can share the posts publicly, but if the group is private you cannot share the posts.
Also I read Ronnie Bincer’s post that says you can’t share publicly after choosing to share to a community: https://plus.google.com/108210288375340023376/posts/Jm7XEkttGS3
Chatting with Ivar Choi Espedalen in a hangout, it is worth noting how you can enrich Google+ experience even more hashtags as well.
For example, #starwars you can use it as a standalone hashtag or you could filter the stream for who has used this hashtag in any of the communities as well, but to do this you will have to show “everything” when filtering (I’ll work out applications on this soon.)
This could refine the nature of posts you find considerably.
If you are considering creating a community, have a think about your own personal network i.e. do the people in your circles relate to e.g. cats, business, parenting etc. If you have been building your network up on Google+, then they may well jump on a community page you create; if you set up one that people don’t relate, you may be left to ‘search’ for people to find it.
Want to set one up?
Google’s own instructions are here.
Very simple indeed. Enjoy bringing people together in even more ways!