How To Use & Set Up The New Google+ Communities

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Google+ icon   How To Use & Set Up The New Google+ CommunitiesLast week, Google rolled out a new tool for Google+ users, called Communities. It is mainly another social networking space, both public and private, which is topic-based rather than user-based. Communities are similar to individual Google+ Circles, but with these community groups, you opt-in to a group rather than being added to a circle.

Within days of its launch, hundreds, if not thousands, of communities have already been created around a wide range of topics and interests, from food, Star Wars, and Landscape Photography, to a group about Science, which already has over two thousand members. If you’re a Google+ member, it takes just a few clicks to join or create a new community.

Though the features of Google+ Communities will probably be expanded over the weeks and months to come, the following are some tips for getting the most out of Google+ Communities.

Google communities2   How To Use & Set Up The New Google+ Communities

Joining & Participating

The Communities button can be found on the left side of your Google+ profile page. Clicking on the green and white button reveals several dozen existing communities.

Google communities 2   How To Use & Set Up The New Google+ Communities

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To search and discover more communities, you don’t use the regular Google search box at the top of the page. You use the smaller Communities search box right across from “Discover communities.” The box is easy to overlook, so that’s why I have pointed it out.

Google communities 3   How To Use & Set Up The New Google+ Communities

Just as with your main Google+ stream, you can add posts, comments, photos, and links to Community pages. On the left side of Community pages is a drop-down Actions button for inviting people to a community you’re a member of, and sharing a community with people in your existing Google+ Circle contacts. This is also where you can leave a community or report abuse.

Google communities 14   How To Use & Set Up The New Google+ Communities

The goal of Communities is to hold discussions rather than just post links and spam, but invariably Community pages will sometimes get populated with posts you would like to ignore. You can mute/hide a post by clicking on the little circle and triangle button on the top-right side of a post.

Google communities 13   How To Use & Set Up The New Google+ Communities

When you add a post to a Community, it’s a good practice to select an appropriate category for your post; that is, if the moderator has created sub-categories for the community. The drop-down menu under your post will list all the sub-categories setup for a particular community. They are also listed on the left side of the page.

Google communities 15   How To Use & Set Up The New Google+ Communities

As with regular Google+ pages, you will receive notices when people respond, favor, or re-post your posts. You can also of course share Community posts to your Twitter and Facebook accounts, and to your Google+ Circles.

Creating a Google Plus Community Group

Both public and private communities can be created with a simple click of the red “Create A Community” button on the Communities page. With Public pages, you just need to add a name for your community, and then a tagline about what the community is about. You get the option to allow people to freely join your community, or require approval from you for each member to join.

Google communities 16   How To Use & Set Up The New Google+ Communities

You will want to pick a photo for you community; its measurements must be a minimum of 250×250 pixels. As a moderator of the group, you should also create a sub-categories (see screenshot above) to encourage users to add their posts to an appropriate category. As of now there’s no other way to manage posts.

Google private communities   How To Use & Set Up The New Google+ Communities

You use the same steps for creating a private Google Plus community group, with the options to hide your community not only from Community searches, but also whether or not your community can be found through a search and request to join.

As a moderator, you will want to watch for spam posts and encourage members to add their posts to appropriate sub-categories. If Google identifies a post as possible spam, you as the moderator can remove a post, but unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be a way to move a post from one sub-category to another.

Limitations

As of now, Google+ Communities are a work in process. There are lots of comments, questions, and suggestions on the Google+ Discussion Community that are no doubt being read by Google. Some of the biggest issues include the problem of managing posts and controlling spam.

Another issue is that when you add a post, not a reply, to a community page, it also gets posted on your main public Google+ page. There should be an option for this not to occur. In addition, because of the linear layout of Google+ streams, posts will get buried and basically disappear from the main page. Updated posts should appear at the top of the stream so they are kept alive.

For other Google+ related articles, check out these:

There’s much more that can and will be said about Google+ Communities in the coming months. But let us know what you think of the tool so far.

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13 Comments - Write a Comment

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Nazim Lachter

I like very much this new functionality in G+ !

Anonymous

I do too, Nazim. While there are several features that you need to be added, I like G+ much better than Facebook.

Reply

Qin Tang

Wow, thanks for this article, will have a try.

Reply

Fawad Mirzad

Google plus’s biggest challenge was lack of coming back to the service. it had a fast growth in user sign ups. but most users even did not come back to service after sign up. this can be highly engaging feature for Google plus. but to mention that this features also do not targets normal users. only those who are interested in online communities and networks will become loyal.
The features Google communities have is much better than Facebook groups.

Bakari Chavanu

Yeah, I stopped using Facebook a few years ago, but it’s something about G+ Communities that a little more easier to tolerate. I’m not sure if Communities will ever be as big as FB, but if Google keeps working on it, it could become a good alternative to FB.

Shelly Olmstead

They’re both social networks, and they’re competitive, I suppose, but I think Google+ and Facebook are rather different, and I think it goes past the interface, it’s also the way it’s used by people. At least for me, I’ve noticed that Google+ has a more professional, and perhaps a bit more civilized, userbase, while Facebook’s, well, everyone. And it seems as though the people who use Google+ are in an older age bracket, while Facebook users tend to be younger. That’s just from my own personal use of it, though. I don’t know how it is for other users. I personally like Google+ much more than Facebook, it’s definitely cleaner, though if you’ve been using Facebook as long as I have (I signed up when you were required to have a school-affiliated email account just to make an account), it DOES take a little while to get used to Google+ because it has a different flow to the site. But after I got used to it, I grew to appreciate it and actually prefer it over Facebook. I would love to use it more than I currently do, but most of my friends only use Facebook, and out of the small number that use Google+, only a few actively update their profiles on a regular basis. So, in reality, I really only have about 4 friends on Google+ who are regularly active on it. However, every once in a while I’ll put a link to my Google+ profile on Facebook to let my friends there know I have it, just in case they have a G+ account and didn’t see one of my last posts, or only signed up for it after the last time I posted a link to my profile in my status. It’s worth it though, because every time I do that, I’ll get at least a couple friends that add me to their circles on G+, so slowly but surely my circle of friends is growing on there.

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Thomas Petrucha

Fascinating how fast the communities grow ;)
… nice features *thumbs up*

Bakari Chavanu

I agree, Thomas. I just wish I had time to participate in the 15 communities I’ve already signed up for.

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Steve Costello

I have joined just three communities so far.

These have been beneficial, as they focus on a particular interest, rather than having to figure out which people to circle.

I really think this will be one of the better things Google has come up with.

Bakari Chavanu

Totally agree, Steve. I use Communities a lot more than I use Circles now.

Reply

Kevin NĂ©meth

<3 G+ functions!

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Mac Witty

Too many communities on the same topic. There should be a “half stop” when creating a new suggesting go to the already existing

Bakari Chavanu

Yeah, but some people who complain if started not allowing communities even if they are the same topic. Some users might feel that their community or moderation offers a unique view or take on a topic. But I get your point.

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