Google+ Communities Create New Networks for Authors and Publishers

by Joel Friedlander on January 23, 2013 · 16 comments

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The social web keeps coming up with new ways for us to create communities. Recently Google+, one of my favorite social media sites, added this capability in the form of Google+ Communities. They are easy to use and employ this service’s unique abilities within a community model.

There are also some great new communities on Google+ for authors and publishers, but I’ll get to those in a minute.

Four Kinds of Google+ Communities

There’s now a link on Google+ in the left sidebar for Communities. If you belong to any, a menu will “fly out” and show them to you.

Google+ communities

Google says that:

Google+ communities are places for people to get together and talk about the interests they share. Learn how to join an existing community or create a new one.

It turns out creating a community is quite easy, and you can pick from four kinds:

  1. Public—Anyone can join or see the posts to the community page, and posts will be found in a search.
  2. Public moderated—The same as a public group, but moderators have to approve all new members.
  3. Private—Like the moderated public group, but posts can only be seen by members.
  4. Private hidden—You have to be invited to join, the posts are private and shielded from search.

I think you can see with this range of security and openness, you can create almost any kind of community experience.

After you make these choices you name your community, upload a photo to serve as an avatar, and complete the “About” section. You’re ready to go. But make sure you’ve got your privacy settings right—they can’t be changed later.

How Google+ Communities Grow

To see how this works out in practice, and how communities perfectly enhance the control Google+ gives you over how you share your content, take a look at a couple of new communities for indie authors.

Google+ communitiesDigital Publishing
This community, founded by Evo Terra of E Publish Unam has grown in just a few months to a lively group of 2,129 people at last count.

As you can see from the title panel, this is a public group and you can go check out the discussions, like the one about book cover design that’s going on now.

Google+ communitiesAPE: Authors, Publishers, Entrepreneurs is a private group started in conjunction with the Guy Kawasaki book launch. It’s also an active group with several moderators that’s currently made up of 1,562 members.

The branding on their title panel reflects the artwork on the book of the same name.

Both these communities—and a number of others that are getting started on Google+, provide more resources and powerful networking opportunities for indie publishers.

Some might say there are already enough places to go for networking, but the important thing is to find the right places for you. Google+ has a lot to recommend it as a social networking site. And it’s close connection with Google’s search capabilities is just another reason why more people are spending time and effort posting content and making connections there.

Google+ communities have the flexibility to provide that kind of opportunity for your communities, too. Considering Google just added this feature in December 2012, you can see the potential for growth here is substantial.

These two groups are growing quickly, and there are others with almost 100,000 members already.

For more information, see Google’s Google+ Communities FAQ page.

Because of the membership controls, you could use a Google+ community for:

  • Releasing parts of your book or a complete manuscript to select readers
  • Offering bonus content to readers who have signed up with an email address
  • Creating a place where sensitive or personal information can be shared privately
  • Organizing a fan community if lots of your readers use Google+

Can you see a place for a Google+ community for your readers, customers, or fans?

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    { 11 comments… read them below or add one }

    Michael Lipsey May 23, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    Since my comment some months ago I’ve given several G+ communities a whirl and can’t say I’ve gotten into any rewarding discussions. Posts are mostly pretty vaguely related to the topic and comments are in the order of ‘agree.” I have a sizable following as stoicmike on tumblr where I’ve received as many as touching 30,000 notes on a single post. It’s been a great ride but the general consensus is Yahoo is going to blow it, and the creatives, like myself, who post original material, are poised to flee. I haven’t updated my website in ages because it’s so much work, due to the ancient authoring software I used. I’d like to take Joel’s advice and redo it as Wordpress, but I’m told I would have to start from scratch and that would be a lot of work because there’s so much on it. ithoughtso.net does get a modest amount of traffic, about 100 visits/day, so I leave it sitting there and procrastinize about updating it. I post some on Facebook & twitter, but that is more social than useful. I’m here and there elsewhere, for example, the other day I set up on Behance — and there are other social media sites that are promising as more continue to appear. The situation is so fluid and fast moving that I don’t think anyone really has a handle on it.

    Reply

    David Rory O'Neill May 23, 2013 at 3:19 am

    Hi Joel, interesting idea but I’ve got a fundamental question? For you, I can see the reason for being on Google+ communities. You are seeking writers, they are your potential customers. However I am seeking readers, people that might buy my fiction. Writers talking-shops can get very incestuous and I feel people often lose track of what they are trying to achieve. If you are new and want to learn then fine, but if you are trying to bring your brand to a wider potential audience of readers/customers, are these communities the place to do that?
    I am slowly building a new brand, some of it will use your products. I am sure Facebook has brought me little of worth, Twitter is still very new to me and I’m going slow. Even Goodreads proved to be a drain on time that produced few sales. I feel the whole social-media can be a mire that one needs to tread through carefully to avoid being bogged down in time-sucking conversations that distract from the need to write and sell and improve ones work and brand.
    I’ve decided to get very focused and do just a few: my blog, Twitter and You-tube the rest are being watched but not joined.
    Regards, David.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander May 23, 2013 at 11:49 am

    Hi David,

    Thanks for your thoughtful comment. Of course, groups on Digital Publishing would be useless for your marketing, but the idea of these communities is a good one. The challenge will be finding communities where you can expect to find readers who like your kinds of books. These communities on Google+ are multiplying rapidly and there’s a bit of the Wild West about them at the moment. Of course, this also opens up the opportunity to start one of these groups yourself, or in partnership with some other writers of similar kinds of books. Posting updates of new books in your genre, highlighting book reviews, interviews with authors and so on may well build a community of readers that would be a potent force in helping you market your books.

    Reply

    Vitalii Soldatenko January 30, 2013 at 12:09 am

    This is a very interesting and useful information. Wonder what opportunities are open to the authors of such community. As for the authors of the important question of personal space, the ability to manage their content. We develop such tools on http://www.intubus.com It would be interesting to integrate them with the communities for the authors. Thank you. Excellent article.

    Reply

    Traci Loudin January 26, 2013 at 7:56 am

    If you’re a science fiction or fantasy writer, may I recommend the Speculative Fiction Writers Community: https://plus.google.com/communities/112515101312869340641

    We’re open to brand new writers as well as established authors, with topics ranging from writing dieselpunk to where to find great cover artists.

    There are tons of writers on G+ now, and now with Google’s AuthorRank, it’s more important than ever for building your platform. Thanks for writing up a great post on communities, Joel! I’ve been around the site plenty of the past several months (and I subscribe via RSS), but this is the first time I’ve had anything to contribute to the conversation. Thanks for all you do to help writers like me!

    Reply

    Michael Lipsey January 24, 2013 at 9:15 pm

    I signed up for G+ early on, but the circles baffled me and very few people I know seem to use it. But I’ll give it another whack and check out the communities. I use Facebook, which I distrust, but everyone is on it, and tumblr, which I love, but is not really social media in the sense that you interact a great deal. But tumblr does have huge reach. Twitter is, for the most part, like religion, everyone thinks someone is listening out there. I’d like to see a real alternative to Facebook (diaspora never got off the ground) because it fulfills a tremendous need, but many of us have sadly concluded the company is seriously dishonorable in that there are regular attempts to violate your privacy settings. So I am cheering for G+.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander January 25, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    Michael, I think we’re on the same page about Facebook. I spend almost no time there, love Twitter, but find that Google+ is a great alternative. At first it was mostly tech types, but it seems to be growing in interesting directions.

    Circles take a little getting used to, but give you a lot of control about who sees your posts, which makes the service great for me. Instead of mixing personal and business contacts, I can easily separate them into different circles and post to them separately.

    Hope that helps.

    Reply

    Kelly Langston January 23, 2013 at 10:44 am

    It was very interesting to see this post today about Google’s communities because I spent all of yesterday afternoon exploring them, including the Writer’s Discussion Group listed in your post.

    Actually, I set up my own (Short Stories Cafe) community there. What I don’t really understand, however, is how to attract and find members who can begin meaningful discussions on Google+?

    Google+ is my preferred social media platform (I have questions about FB’s privacy issues), but while I know my way around FB, I am often confused about getting plugged into Google+, particularly with finding like-minded people to share ideas there. (Especially when just beginning the process.)

    Joel, if you have any tips on how to do this on Google+, I would love to hear them.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander January 25, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    Kelly, thanks for your input. My suggestion would be to spend time participating in some of the other communities before trying to start your own. This will give you practical experience in how they work, what makes them attractive, and who is participating. Develop a list of people who you think would be interested and then start inviting people to your group. Like forums and other discussion groups, I’m betting that success breeds success here. If lots of people are engaging, they will draw in others, but if the community doesn’t have much going on, it’s hard to get any traction.

    Reply

    Linda K January 23, 2013 at 10:01 am

    For a long time, I’ve ignored Google+ because it looked half-baked and not very people I know are on it. I’m not a big fan of Facebook because it reminds me of a messy teenage boy’s bedroom, but I’ve tolerated it. I hate how they are constantly changing the ground rules and lately they’ve made an effort to render Pages ineffective unless you cough up beaucoup bucks. That’s not a problem I need to worry about, but I imagine some authors with many followers are very upset. So yesterday when I happened to drop in on Google+ I was pleasantly surprised by the Community page. Wow. Now that’s really useful to readers and writers. I will start paying more attention to Google+ and if Google is smart, they’ll take this and run with it.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander January 23, 2013 at 10:15 am

    Thanks, Linda. I can only offer anecdotal evidence, but it seems to me like the introduction of communities has given Google+ a real jolt of acttivity and interest. I spend very little time on Facebook for some of the same reasons you cite, but I’ve been very pleased with Google+ and it seems to be a place for more focused discussions. And I love those hangouts!

    Reply

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