Your Community Sucks and Here’s Why

A Guide to Jump-Starting your Google+ Community

We are now on day six of Google+ Communities and people are starting to learn a number of things very quickly. First and foremost, if you missed the opportunity to be the first to create a unique community surrounding one of your interests, don’t worry. It’s not about being the first, it’s all about being the best.

The first thought that crossed my mind when I heard that Google+ was releasing a communities feature was whether or not there would be a community for people that like to manage communities. It seems meta, I know, but it is very likely that the creators of these communities would like a forum to share their knowledge, tips, tricks and questions, while making a few important connections.

Since creating the Community Moderators community, we have had over 1,100 unique members join. We have had dozens of people’s questions answered, some very interesting feedback expressed towards the betterment of communities, and most importantly, a fellowship of people with like-minded interests.

In my last post, I talked about how Communities could be the answer to your biggest circle management nightmares. That theory only works if you are dealing with successful communities. So how do you make your community a success?

Bring the right people into the conversation.

A community is much like a new house, it is not going to build itself. However, it does require some of the same fundamental features of a house. It needs a good foundation, support beams, and protection from the elements.

Abandoned House near Hooper's Farm to Oast House Archive
Photo: Abandoned House near Hooper’s Farm by Oast House Archive (Used under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0)

The foundation of my community is a group of people that share passion for a common interest. Without the foundation, we would have no place to establish our pillars for success. Finding the people the are right for your community is tricky. Of course, you could always spam out to all of your followers and ask them to come and join, but what is in it for them? To attract valuable members to a community, you must show them the value of becoming a member.

For the Community Moderators community, the value was easy to demonstrate, if you come and join us, you will learn from other community moderators, have a chance to ask questions and gain valuable insight towards growing your own community. It sells itself, really. However, for some community topics, it may be harder to market value. Regardless, if you can cast your community in a light that shows value to potential members, you are more likely to attract members that are likely to actively participate in the conversation.

Support the conversation and keep it going.

As a community moderator, you will quickly find that you cannot answer every question and stimulate every conversation. The remarkable thing about having a community, is that the members of your community can work with each other to answer questions, create engaging conversation and exchange valuable content relative to your topic.

Initially, it may be difficult stimulating the level or quality of conversation that you would like to see within your community. Just like in a cold room, people are often shy and do not want to be ridiculed for their opinions. Start with some light conversation. Break the ice with your community. Show them that you all have humility and good will and can learn from each other.

As more people become more comfortable with sharing their thoughts and ideas, the conversation will begin to grow. Before you know it, you may have to call for some help to make sure the conversations are headed in the right direction and that people are familiar with your community and its guidelines.

Protect your community from the elements.

The Internet is like any other place in the world. It has good people, it has bad people and it has some people that just don’t know any better. Your job as a community owner is to ensure that you are moderating your community in a fashion that is not restricting free speech, but keeping out unnecessary commercial solicitations, spam and otherwise annoying contributions.

When you begin to protect your community from spammers, trolls and bullies, keep in mind that you are not InterPOL and your function isn’t to control what every member of your community has to say. Your just to to facilitate the conversation, keep it rich, keep it on topic (if necessary) and keep the evil doers at bay.

When deciding how to moderate (not police) your community, you might want to consider establishing a Code of Conduct or set of Community Guidelines. I have worked with the Google+ community at large to create an open-source set of Community Guidelines that you can find on github. These guidelines are free for you to use, interpret, change or use how you would like. If you would like to contribute to the project, please free to do so.

Keep in mind that your community guidelines should be general, light-hearted but also clear and concise. Your goal is not to create a rule for every possible situation, but to express to the community that certain behaviors such as hate speech, bullying or spam will not be tolerated. Set the tone early and remain consistent and your community will respect your efforts.

Most importantly, as you watch your community grow, remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Get Notified When People Post on Google+

How to Create a Subscription Circle on Google+

Google+ gives you the opportunity to sort your contacts by interests, topics or whatever you would like. You can create as many circles as you’d like and put people in multiple circles. As you continue to use the social network, you might find yourself following thousands of interesting and unique people from around the world. But, how do you keep yourself from missing out on the posts from the 10 or 20 users you really want to follow?

Thanks to Google’s circle “volume” controls, for a long time you were able to control the prevalence of posts from particular circles within your stream. However, now with the added “Notification” setting, you can get a notification every time someone in a particular circle posts something. Continue reading Get Notified When People Post on Google+

How to Use Craigslist Better with GMail and Google Voice

So, tonight I was on a quest to liquidate some furniture from my house. It’s mostly inexpensive stuff from +IKEA that I have accumulated over the years and will no longer have room for in my new apartment.

In order to quickly get rid of it, I decided to post it on Craigslist for FREE! Yes, that magic four-letter word. But, I wouldn’t dare do that without a strategy.

I posted several things simultaneously on Craigslist, the furniture Continue reading How to Use Craigslist Better with GMail and Google Voice

Embracing Failure: Why Learning How to Fail Will Help You Succeed

Old Flying Machine
Old Flying Machine

One of the biggest things I have learned over the past few months is how important it is to fail. You can read about it from so many prominent authors, and hear about it from so many successfully people, but it won’t start to make sense until you start to embrace your failures.

Continue reading Embracing Failure: Why Learning How to Fail Will Help You Succeed

How to Meme Your Images on Google+

Using any image on your hard drive, you can instantly create a meme by adding your own text. There’s no need to use photo editing software or a third party website. You can do all of the work, effortlessly, right here on Google+!

Face it, no one likes boring funny images without a witty caption. Spice up your original photos by making your followers laugh! Now start getting creative! Who knows, maybe your next meme will top the What’s Hot list!

Creating Impactful Presentations: How-To

Using nothing but Google Docs’ Presenter, Google’s stock images and a Google+ Hangout, presentation expert +Harold Carey Jr. was able to teach me how to create a very simple and effective presentation.

No more sliding text or sound effects, just a header, image and…well, I’d tell you the rest, but you can watch the video!

Check out Harold’s website at http://haroldcarey.com/ .

How to Find Almost Anything on Google

It’s great to see that Google’s marketing team is starting to reach out to the non-geeks of the world and show them how to use features that more seasoned users like me already know how to use.

Sometimes you need to put things in context and remember that your aptitude in utilizing the Internet might be light years ahead of your friends and family. This quick video shows people that aren’t as technical as most of the people active in social media how to utilize some great time-saving features.

Continue reading How to Find Almost Anything on Google

Top Ten Mistakes Bloggers Make

Stop Sign
Image Source: FreeFoto.com

If you’re just starting a blog or trying to learn how to be a successful blogger on the Internet you have probably read a lot about what you should be doing. Have you considered thinking about what you shouldn’t be doing?

I polled my network of experts on Google+ and got some great responses on this topic. I wanted to feature +C Bret Campbell‘s thoughts as a guest post. Here’s his top ten list of mistakes that bloggers commonly make:

Top 10 No-No’s:

Continue reading Top Ten Mistakes Bloggers Make

How to Do Almost Anything on Google+

Over the last several months I have spent a lot of time coming up with ways to use Google+ for your business, organization or personal brand. There are lots of things that I have shared and some that many people have had helpful.

From using the Hangout feature, to developing your own page or determining how people enjoy using certain features through the research I have conducted. There is a list that I have maintained on my profile page that contains most of the important information I have shared with the community. I have offered all of this information and follow-up conversation with anyone that was interested at absolutely no cost.

Continue reading How to Do Almost Anything on Google+