As social media continues to rapidly expand, so do its applications and features. One particularly popular feature is communities. Communities offer valuable channel for users to engage in a topic they are passionate about, which provides businesses with a great opportunity to engage with customers. Whether you want to interact in one of these communities as a customer or a business, you need to know the steps for joining and participating in the conversation.

Communities operate a little differently from platform to platform, but the general principles are the same. Here we’ll cover how to participate in these groups on three of the largest social platforms—Google+, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Don't Wait, Engage!

Participating in a Google+ Community

Joining a Google+ community is simple. First go to plus.google.com/communities to browse all communities or recommended communities for you. You can also use the “search for communities” search bar to find a particular community that you have in mind.

Once you find a community of interest, either click the “join” button or visit the page to check it out first. Most communities are open to the public, but some communities are private. These communities will have an “ask to join” button instead.

Once you’re a member of a community, the participation is fairly straightforward. You can post photos, links, videos, events, and even polls. Google+ communities also allow you to categorize your posts.

participating google plus community

To reply to a post on Google+, simply click in the “add a comment” bar and enter your message. You can tag other people in your comment by using the “@” or “+” symbol, immediately followed by their name. Twitter bird icon Click the “+1” button next to any comment or post to show that you like it. You can also share a post to your own Google+ page if you would like.

Participating in a Facebook Community Page

Similar to Google+, finding a Facebook community is very simple. All Facebook community pages are public, and you do not join groups like you do on Google+. Instead, you can choose to “like” community pages in order to participate on them. Doing so will also allow the page appear in your news feed.

Community pages on Facebook are very similar to other page types that you’ve seen on Facebook. According to Facebook, the difference is that “a community page is a page about an organization, celebrity or topic that [the community] doesn’t officially represent.” You will notice, however, that many businesses mistakenly use a community page even though the business itself is running the page.

Once you’ve found a community page that you want to engage with, you can post to the page or comment on posts just like you can on Google+. You can also share posts and like individual comments or posts.

 

participating facebok community page

 

Participating in a LinkedIn Group

To find a LinkedIn group, select “groups” from the dropdown list to the left of the search bar found at the top of any page. Then enter your keywords or group name to search for groups. On the results page, you can use the check boxes to the left to further narrow your search results. Many groups on LinkedIn require approval from a group monitor or additional information to show that you meet the group’s membership requirements. As you would expect, LinkedIn groups are typically learning- and career-oriented.

Posts on LinkedIn are categorized as either discussions, promotions, or jobs. Just like on the other platforms, you can create your own post or comment on others. Of course, you can like and comment in the same ways as well.

posting linkedin group

 

You can share updates from other LinkedIn users to a group by clicking the “post to groups” check box in the window that appears after you click on the share button. Twitter bird icon

 

sharing linkedin posts group

 

No matter which communities you decide to participate in, remember that it’s not all about you. Twitter bird icon Be sure to post relevant content and keep your comments on topic as well. You’ll make more friends or customers by contributing to the topics communities are passionate about than by trying to promote your own interests or cause.

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11 Comments

  • Caz*, October 8, 2015 @ 9:20 pm

    I was in marketing before social media marketing became a huge deal. Interestingly enough, I was one of the people that had a hard time transitioning from street level marketing – posters, flyers, word of mouth – to bringing the majority of my marketing reach out to the Internet. Don’t get me wrong, the Internet had been part of marketing strategies for me since the 90’s. When social media marketing came to the forefront, I didn’t really “get it.” I would be asked to share or post about certain things, so I would just blast a dozen posts across all social media accounts – one after the other. I didn’t give much thought to spreading out the timing or saying different things based on the account audience. It really came together for me after a conversation with my boss at the time about organic reach out. Suddenly it clicked! In the 90’s, America Online was all the rage and businesses would pay for people to spend most of their days on forums and chatrooms answering questions and naturally bringing up business referrals into conversation. I did that for a handful of companies back then. After talking to my manager about organic out reach, I changed my focus from blasting announcements on social media accounts to really taking the time to find every corner of the Internet talking about similar things – blogs, forums, communities, groups, everything! Not only was it more successful for the company, it helped build my personal brand over years of providing helpful hints and feedback to community members that shared the same genuine interests I did. We are our own best marketing voices.

  • Josh Virchow, October 9, 2015 @ 1:56 pm

    I think it’s great how big online communities are becoming. It seems as though you can find a community in almost any topic.

  • Parker Wood, October 12, 2015 @ 12:14 pm

    Joining online communities can be a great way to bring some of your knowledge to the table, but it is important to have proper social etiquette so people will want you to comment.

  • Andrew Williams, October 12, 2015 @ 2:35 pm

    Following other communities is a great way to learn and share ideas.

  • Jamison Michael Furr, October 12, 2015 @ 4:34 pm

    Very true! I love looking up things I loved from my childhood, like a random old video game or something, finding a group for it, and then seeing how many people on there had similar experiences to mine – it’s always fascinating!

  • Jamison Michael Furr, October 12, 2015 @ 4:36 pm

    America Online! Chat rooms! Oh man the memories! Thanks for your insights, Caz 🙂 Social media is so much more effective because it can be so personal – which is why finding those corners where people are talking about similar things is so key as you mentioned.

  • Ben Hanzel, October 14, 2015 @ 4:46 pm

    I feel like communities are one of the features that can define social media. I really love the idea of them and they are a great way to connect.

  • Reliable Carpet & Upholstery C, October 24, 2015 @ 12:49 pm

    We are strong supporters of the value of other communities when building a busienss. We’ve been able to learn tips that have proven to be absolutely vital to the success we now enjoy. Manta, in particular, was very useful. When I had a question about our approach to something, I posted the question and got several results – some which were useful and others not so much. I also found our current “teckie” at Manta. It’s a great community for any small business owner.

  • Caz*, November 10, 2015 @ 4:22 am

    I miss AOL chat rooms. Twitter chats and Reddit IRC just will never be the same. Reddit can be pretty close though. I just don’t click with Reddit like I did that old school dial up tone of A to the O to the L!

  • Sani Nielsen, November 17, 2015 @ 10:05 pm

    It’s so great to see the value that communities can provide any type of industry. I love to see smaller businesses really taking advantage of the personal nature of online communities. It makes me want to support them even more.
    I love local and I think connecting online is just one more way the Mom and Pop shops can still have an impact on my buying behavior.

  • Caz*, November 22, 2015 @ 8:47 pm

    Do you have any favorite online communities?

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