Google’s response to Facebook and LinkedIn Groups (and to Quora, to a certain extent) is Google Communities—a forum-like experience where people interested in specific topics congregate to chat and share information, which they released last month. Communities are built on the Google+ platform and can be discovered from the now familiar left-hand sidebar, where Google stashes all of their many projects.
Once there, search for any topic you wish and you’ll probably find a bunch of communities already. If you want to join a community, click the big red ‘join community’ button near the top of the page. This will push updates to your Gmail inbox (if you use Google mail), and you’ll also be notified of new posts with big red numbers that pop up at the top of the page in the Notifications section, when logged into a Google product.
You can also create communities about any topic you wish. I’ll cover community creation in a future update; in the meantime, you can find some great step-by-step guides on Mashable and Social Media Examiner.
The Benefits of Google Communities for Hoteliers
With the slew of topical information available out there, it can be overwhelming and tiresome to join network after network to follow your favorite interests. My advice is to pick a network or platform that you already like, and just use that until it stops giving you the information you need.
For me, I enjoy Google products, and so I’m really excited about Google Communities. I’ll probably be more active on Google Communities than on LinkedIn or Facebook Groups because I’m almost always logged into my Google account to check email, and to update our Google+ business page.
The benefits for hoteliers are similar to Communities’ rival products—to engage with like-minded people in your industry; to learn from them and to share information, stories and experiences. For those who don’t already have a routine of checking RSS readers, Facebook or LinkedIn Groups, Quora, online message boards or forms, and so on, Google Communities may be a nice way to get accustomed to participating in online discussions.
Need a place to get started? I made a community about hotel marketing, which I’m committing myself to pruning and nurturing over time. I’ll be sure to keep out all the spammers and self-promoters. Stop on by, join the community, and share your own personal stories.