Google+, the company’s venture in social networking, has launched public and private Communities that users can set up. Those users will have a lot of potential fellow communitizers, considering that Google+ has now announced it has more than half a billion users.
Of those 500 million, 235 million are actively Gmail IMing, connecting with friends via Search or using +1 buttons, while another 135 million are active only through the stream. The site opened to public sign-up about a year ago, and in September Senior Vice President Vic Gundotra said the count of Google+ members was more than 400 million. As he wrote this week on the Google Official Blog, “Today Google+ is the fastest-growing thingy ever.”
Possibilities for Brands
Google+ communities, comparable to Facebook Groups, allow public or private membership in groups based around any topic, from the most world-shattering to the merely improbable or the downright mundane. Some of the public communities currently available include Running, The Photo Community, Star Wars, Exploration, In the Kitchen, the Go-To Parents Community, Fashion Radar and Classical Music Enthusiasts. Users can also search by topic for compatible communities.
Given that the first batch of public communities includes several related to commercial brands — such as The Audi Community, Call of Duty players or Star Wars — it’s not hard to envision how brands could form or utilize communities for social marketing purposes, thus adding to Google’s countless revenue streams.
When you enter a community, there’s a Join Community button, a column of postings with links, comments, images and/or video from community members, a submenu of All Posts and sub-topics, a “search this community” option, a Share button and a Chat button.
Within a community, a user can set up sub-topics, and any user of that community can start a discussion, incorporating material from Google+ or around the web. Private communities can either be searchable — i.e., discoverable — or not, and community members can start video conferencing hangouts or plan events with other community members.
Communities, which can be shared from any +1 button on the web, will be offered in a mobile version soon.