If you’re just now finding our Google+ series, make sure you go back and read Google+ 101 and 201 to learn why it’s valuable to professional services firms and how to get started.

Now that you’re up to speed, let’s talk about some best practices for getting the most out of your Google+ profile. As with any social media platform, building an online community can be a great way to market your firm and connect with potential customers.

Communities are the Google+ version of Facebook “groups.” Designed to bring together people with shared interests, Google+ communities provide a space to engage in conversation with other users. This can be especially helpful for connecting with your target audience. With Google+ communities, your firm can:

  • More easily recognize the challenges and interest areas of your target market
  • Position yourself as an industry authority
  • Work toward increasing traffic to your website
  • Get ideas for content creation

With all of these advantages—and the potential for more—you might be tempted to create your firm’s Google+ community right away. Before you get started, check out our three top tips.

3 Things to Do Before Starting a Google+ Community

1. Do your research. Search through existing communities to see if there are other communities with similar topics. You need to know whether the creation of your community will be filling an informational void or competing with other already established communities. If there are other existing communities, consider how your community can set itself apart. Provide a different viewpoint, share a higher level of expertise or create more engaging discussions.

2. Join other communities. Being an active community member will give you the opportunity to learn from already successful communities. You can see what works and what doesn’t. Pay attention to popular trending topics and take note of what motivates members to participate.

3. Determine the logistics. There are a few logistical decisions you need to make about how members will join your community. You can leave membership open to anyone who wants to join, moderate membership by accepting or denying requests or keep membership to invite-only. In the case of your professional services firm’s community, the best option is probably to moderate membership. With that option, you can review the profiles of potential members before acceptance to ensure you won’t be dealing with spammers.

5 Best Practices to Have a Successful Google+ Community

Having a Google+ community is good, but having a successful community is great. Here are our five best practices to make your community the best it can be.

1. Establish clear rules. Creating a community policy will work to keep spam and irrelevant content to a minimum. Let it be known in your policy that your community will not tolerate posts written with the sole purpose of promotion.

2. Remain focused. Even though it seems like a broad topic might help bring in more members, a highly focused topic is more likely to create an active and passionate community.

3. Stay active. In order to bring in new members and engage the ones you already have, make sure you post a minimum of one time per day. If this feels overwhelming, consider assigning more than one moderator.

4. Engage with members. Members are more likely to engage in your community if you are engaging right back. Ask questions, provide feedback and comment on information shared by members.

5. Use Google Hangout. Build even stronger relationships with members by utilizing Google Hangouts for interesting discussions and committee meetings.

Now with Google+ 301 under your belt, you’re ready to use this social media platform to find and connect with prospective buyers. Leveraging the community feature allows your professional services firm to build relationships with members and further establish your authority in your industry.

On Google+? Join the Professional Services Marketing Today community to discuss how to create a high growth, high value firm through marketing, strategy, business development, branding, and research findings.