With the introduction of Google+ communities, many businesses and brands with G+ business/brand pages have been left wondering where G+ communities would fit into their marketing mix. Already comfortable with using the Google+ page to communicate their branded message to the consumer audience, many Internet marketers began raising concerns about relaying duplicate content and having to double-up on their G+ marketing efforts. Thankfully this is not the case. Google+ pages and communities are intended to fulfill two different marketing objectives.
Google+ Business and Brand Pages
Taking a lesson from Facebook pages, we already know that most consumers follow business and brand pages for deals and special offers. For the most part there is very little engaging conversation between brands and consumers in this environment, unless it is motivated by a well orchestrated promotion, contest or similar incentive. G+ pages are ideal for sharing branded messages like company updates and news, but when using this avenue to communicate intimately with consumers it is difficult to get a clear understanding of the audience’s needs, as well as the relationship they have with your brand and the expectations they have of your business. Nevertheless, Google+ pages provide an ideal marketing platform for engaging the audience during a promotion or give-away. I recommend reserving your community for meaningful conversations with brand followers, about how you can improve what the consumer audience already loves about your products/services.
On the other hand, Google+ communities have demonstrated that they can offer businesses and brands a more focused platform for encouraging in-depth and engaging conversations. This approach is has been made even easier with the use of Google+’ community Topics, especially when used in partnership with other great Google+ features. By carefully selecting topics for discussion, businesses can encourage focused conversations within the community that can help them identify favorable and problematic aspects of their brand, products/services and/or industry. This helps businesses closely relate to consumers and allows them an opportunity to participate in meaningful discussions with their audience, through community posts and hangouts.
Using Let’s Get Social as an example, we created both a page for the G+ Marketing conference as well as a Google+ community to share G+ marketing tips and advice. In doing so, we have established two avenues to communicate with the same audience members. The brand page allows us to share an endless supply of Google+ information, tips and advice, while our Google+ marketing community allows us to initiate and maintain discussions on specific topics, like G+ marketing tips or other strategies. In doing so, the engagement in the community helps us develop a deeper understanding of the obstacles and challenges facing Internet marketers, businesses and brands, so that our Let’s Get Social speakers can better prepare the content for the upcoming Google+ marketing conference. This approach allows businesses to asked targeted questions and received focused responses and opinions from the people who matter.