google+ audience
By Martin Shervington, {grow} Community Member

I’ve been a Seth Godin fan ever since I read Permission Marketing in 2001. It is his book Tribes, however, that’s been on my mind lately, and I believe Google+ is the place where people can come together like never before to create those critical communities.

So, here is a step-by-step guide for you to build your tribe and help people fall in love with your brand along the way.

1. Get Started

I’ll keep it simple:

If you are a person then set up a Google+ profile.
If you are a business then set up a Google+ Page.
If you are social, set up both.
Note: if you are a Local business, or have a location on the map, make sure you choose that option.

People relate to people before they relate to brands they don’t know. Once people get to know YOU then you can introduce your brand via your Profile (i.e. share your brand’s content from your Profile).

2. Have Some Decent Content

If Twitter enabled coffee shop conversations, then Google+ is the new town square. As such, it is very hard for people to know, like, and trust you unless there is something around which to come together. You need to put out your stall and stock it with content so you’re ready for action.

3. Don’t set up a community until you have a tribe forming around you

This may seem odd, but here is why: if you rush and create a community called “My Business is Awesome” (i.e. all about you) instead of “How We’ll Help You Become Awesome” (i.e. about them) then at 500 members you cannot change the name on Google+. You can, however, change the subtitle.

Trust me on this. Relax and build a tribe/community around your Profile or Page first and then move that attention into a Google+ community once you see how people respond to you and your content. Allow yourself to be shaped by the network, by your tribe.

4. Engage if you want engagement

On Google+, every +1, every comment, every share, can all make demands upon your attention. Used wisely you can build relationships with the people whom you most want to connect. Once you receive engagement yourself, use Google Circles to ensure you know who is engaging the most. You can then give them some time, attention, and love, too.

For a more detailed description of this process, check out my post at Social Media Examiner.

5. Be Helpful

This is one in which Mark Schaefer and Jay Baer lead the way. I follow their example and give like crazy; in fact, I give so much time, attention, content and energy that people feel they’ve entered a new paradigm. In fact, they have. In order to build a tribe, you will need to prove your worth as a leader, whether you are a brand or just one person. Free has the least friction. Free with huge value has legs.

Which leads me on…

6. Give a face, or faces, to your brand

You will not find it easy to build a tribe when wearing a brand mask. People like people. So, connect with them as people in the following ways:

  1. when posting as a brand page, say (posted by….) to help people join the dots
  2. create Hangout-on-Air events which enable people to see the faces behind the posting and the brand
  3. create general meet and greet hangouts (not recorded) where people can just pop by and say “hi” – you can even create these in Google+ communities and they will invite all members – that is one heck of a list you could be inviting!
  4. you may consider adding a personal touch to your brand page cover photo by featuring the key staff members involved in Page management.

7. Look to make core tribe members feel special

Once your tribe is getting established you can deepen the conversation by moving it into a “private” Google+ community. Here you can create special events and connect in a deeper, more intimate manner. You can even look to have paid communities for these people as well. We do this. It works really well.

8. Create a process of community management

“Pin” daily posts into the community, create conversation topics, +mention the members that are engaging the most – all of these things can bring people into the community and let them know that you are there to listen. You need to be there to nurture relationships, one +1/comment/share/hangout at a time.

9. Reach out beyond the “base” of your tribe.

If you can guest blog, write. If you can be interviewed, talk. If you can attend conferences, go!

Amplification is the name of the game at this stage. You want people to see you are creating a movement, and bring people towards you. To do this you need to leave the safe confines of your tribe’s basecamp and head out to meet other friendly leaders in your niche.

Build relationships and you will spread the word. I’ve spent six months doing this and now the Plus Your Business brand is known by thousands more people than if we had limited our engagement to Google+ only.

10. Enable people to belong and to contribute

Look to feature community members and their work and they will feel part of the movement. I watch Chris Brogan publicly support people in this way, and it is seriously heartwarming when it happens to you. People like feeling included, and they love feeling special.

So, for instance, what about creating a “featured member of the day/week/month”? Or sharing people’s posts and giving them a shoutout? Or running a campaign and asking people to get involved, creating and sharing content?

For more info on this, check out my post at Convince and Convert.

Finally…
Put away the spreadsheet

Here is the crazy thing. The core of your tribe will be 100 people. These are the ones that will die for your brand, if you know what I mean. They belong.

Once you have this, they will spread the word — supported by you, your content and your own enthusiasm for what you do. So why put away the spreadsheet? This is more to do with art than science. You are a surfer and they are the wave you have created.

Now you have the foundations you need to build a tribe!

martin shervingtonMartin Shervington  is founding and community manager for Plus Your Life and Plus Your Business on Google+. Both communities have over 12,000 members. He did his post grad in Organizational Psychology and has launched The Academy to support individuals and businesses on their Google+ journey.

Illustration courtesy Flickr CC and HothBricks

Book references are affiliate links.

 

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