How to use Google+ Communities – The Food Bloggers Guide

For those of you on Google+, you’ve seen the addition of Communities on G+.  For me it was a dream come true.

I have been working on building a community for food bloggers on G+ since Federated Media sold us out and dismantled our community.  We had become a wondering band of food bloggers with no where to call home.   Then Google+ rolled out their communities and we had someplace to gather and call home.

food blogger community

With the new communities in place, I thought all I had to do was rally the troops and show and all everything would be as it should be….sigh.   What I didn’t think of was how many other food communities would pop up and how chaotic and poorly moderated most of them would be.   I know what you’re asking, why worry about other communities?  Well the problem is that many of the same food bloggers are joining every community they can, and have begun leaving the exact same post at each one, including ours.

When I set my community up it had specific guidelines, the most important being No Self Promotion.   That means, you cannot share your blog posts or images within the community, unless there is a specific question about it, or unless it’s a tutorial that will benefit the community.  I had to amend this statement to include promoting others posts as well.     I thought it would be easy to understand, evidently I was wrong.

This all goes back to what I’ve been saying all along about the audience we want to be reading our posts.   Our target audience is not other Food Bloggers.  Think about it.  We love our friends and need them for support, and guidance  but they will never be the readers that will help us grow.   To grow as a food blogger we need regular people from all walks of life reading our blogs, telling their family and friends and sharing our recipes with them.  This is where our growth comes from.

As a Food blogger I can tell you that I rarely have time to read other food blogs and not because I don’t want to, but because I just don’t have the time.    I have a blog to write, pictures to take, social media to use and there are just not enough hours in the day to do all of that and read blogs with any regularity.   But those folks looking for inspiration in the kitchen do have time to read our blogs, and they also have time to share it with their friends and family.  This is how our readership grows.

This all leads back to food bloggers using communities and how so many of them are using communities wrong.   If you’re one of those bloggers who leaves the same post in all of the communities you belong to, you will fail.   Not only are you selling yourself to the wrong audience, your wasting your time, posting in communities to a limited audience.  You should be posting to Public so that more people will see your post and you’ll gain some new readers.

Oh, you say you do post to public too?  I know you do, when I visit your profile page and see a never ending steam of self promotion, I see a post to public as well.   It reminds me of a hamster on a wheel, constantly moving and never getting any where.

I have told you before in order to succeed on G+ you have to be a good plusser, and only self promoting isn’t being one.

Communities are meant to be a place where you can go to interact with the other community members, and self promoting isn’t interacting, is it?  Your time spent in your communities, should be time spent wisely.   Ask questions that you have about your craft,  and ask your peers how they deal with issues that plague us all.   Don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions and don’t be afraid to share what you know.

Communities should be a place to help you grow, to help you become more successful in your craft, not for mindless self promotion.  Check out how other interest group communities run, and you’ll see what I mean.  Yet some Food Bloggers just don’t seem to get it.   Unless you’re learning something the time you spend in a community is wasted.  Your post’s wont be seen on the public stream and any interaction, comments or +1′s isn’t seen either……… there’s that hamster wheel again.

If you want to grow on G+, spend your time meeting new people in different interest groups, don’t waste your time re-posting in multiple communities sharing to food bloggers and foodies who probably already follow you.

In the G+ Food Bloggers Community that I set up, we share what we’ve learned from personal experience,  and share posts from other interest groups that help us learn to use G+ better.  Google+ is growing rapidly and the folks at G+ are adding new features all the time.  If your’re late to this dance the learning curve is going to be huge.   But don’t worry because even if you’re not already on G+, you’ll have our members and posts on subjects that will help you become successful.

Our community is a place for sharing knowledge and opportunities.  And speaking of opportunities, our community was recently used to pilot a program for G+ running cooking demo’s as Events on Air, and they couldn’t have been happier with the results, even featuring one of our bloggers on the Google+ main page.     So there are some benefits to using Google+ Communities correctly.

If you’re on G+ and not already a member of our Food Bloggers Community we’d love to have you with us, and if you haven’t already joined G+ now’s the time!   You never know what opportunities might be coming your way!    So get with the program you’ve got everything to gain and nothing to lose!

Comments

  1. Just requested to join! Great article – can’t wait to learn more :)

    • Thanks Jodie, just add me to your circles and I will send you an invitation to join us! I look forward to seeing you there!

  2. Thanks yet again Dennis for your wise words and common sense. I’m still just dabbling in the groups, but all advice is more than welcome as I struggle up the curve. ;-)

    • Amanda it just takes some time getting use to everything, but once it all comes together you’ll be very happy you’re on G+. Spend some time in our community we discuss a lot of different topics. Just scroll down to see what’s new.

  3. Hmm, true words about the hamster wheel but I fear I’m not using G+ to it’s potential. I publish my posts on G+ but I don’t seem to see much traffic or interest when I check my traffic stats, heck I’m not even sure if I’m a member of the food blogging community. I soooo want to learn and use G+ for what it’s intended for..a new years resolution for sure!!

    Thanks Chef..

    • Gerry, it takes some time and diligence but you will begin to see increases in your stats, and not as much in the hits from G+, but in the increase in your search engine hits. Thats where the real increase comes. Are you signed up for Google Authorship? That makes a big difference

  4. Let me echo what Chef Dennis said as one of the moderators of the G+ Food Bloggers Community. If you aren’t on Google Plus you need to get there, now. I’ll just point out one simple reason: SERP. If you spend time posting to Facebook or Twitter, you’ll see some results, but those are both closed universes that do NOT appear in Google search results. However, if you interact well on The Plus and have Google Authorship established, your organic search hits will go up because your SERP will improve.

  5. Another great article Chef Dennis. Thank you for setting up and leading the community, you’ve done so much work for us. I’ve not seen the other food communities, I’ve not had the time to look. I’m pleased with how you’ve structured G+ Food Bloggers Community and have enjoyed the short time it’s been up and running. What a great resource for questions I’ve posted to the group. In general, since I’ve been active on G+, I’ve had 6 comments to my blog from general public (non-food bloggers) thanking me for the recipe or commenting on how good the recipe was and how much they enjoyed it. Love that!!!!! Not to mention my stats are up. Merry Christmas Chef Dennis.

  6. Thanks Dennis and have a great Christmas.

  7. Great tutorial on how to use G+ communities effectively. I do enjoy when a community states its guidelines and adheres to them. If it is a community to share posts then great. If not, then it is a valuable place to learn from each other and grow.

    • Thanks Renee, I just want people to realize that sharing posts in a community is really not helping them, and then these are the same people that will say that G+ doesn’t work…lol

  8. When I got back into blogging, I was surprised to see how many bloggers stopped visiting other bloggers… I was used to seeing over 90 comments on people’s posts, now I barely see 10. With that being said, I completely understand what you are saying, and agree. I’m sure those daily 10K+ hits aren’t coming from other food bloggers :-)

    I’ve spent some time on G+ and I admit that I now see a whole lot more hits on my site coming directly from Google… patience is key to it all.
    Thanks Chef for all you do!
    Have a very Merry Christmas!

    • Kate, we see the same results… I have a friend who guest posts gelato recipes for me. He’s not a blogger, but he really enjoyed all the comments left. His last post has had thousands of visits, but only 5 or so comments. He commented to me the other day that he didn’t think it was successful… he didn’t have access to stats or anything, but we just had a long conversation about how things have changed. Now he’s working on a new post for me!! Something to do with strawberry this time, I think… All I know is that I get to eat what ever I photo!

      • it sounds like you’ve got the best of everything going on in your kitchen Kim! I do love Gelato! I think for the most part, the bloggers that are still trapped in the comment game, would see much better results if their time on G+. Comments are great, but they don’t pay the bills! Merry Christmas!

    • hi Kate, thanks for reaffirming what I’ve been saying, not only will you receive hits from Google and find new readers but you’re going to see a surge in your search engine traffic! Merry Christmas!

  9. Thank you so much for speaking out on self-promotion in communities. It has turned me off form a few different groups. I also agree 110% on reaching the public and not just other bloggers! Great article!

  10. Hello Chef D,

    Thanks for sharing such an informative post.

  11. Chef Dennis, I’m taking your well-written words to heart. Sigh. My problem is that I have so little time to spare between Facebook and Google +….and I really want to visit other blogs…especially those who take the time to visit mine, and comment! Sometimes I’m torn between focusing on building an audience…making a little extra pocket change– and then I have to be careful that I don’t get lost in why I started a food blog in the first place. Um, yeah, it’s fun to do!
    Hopefully, I’m practicing common sense and good etiquette. I so appreciate the great advice from those who are ahead of the pack as successful food bloggers. Bottom line, I want this to be fun. Any money made is just a bonus. I do have a day job!

  12. Thanks again Chef Dennis for more useful information :)

  13. So happy to be a part of such an inspiring community! Thank you, Chef Dennis! Cheers to a great new year of blogging :-D

  14. Great article Chef Dennis, definitely food for thought. Thanks so much for helping me learn the Google+ ropes, I feel so clueless sometimes!

  15. Looking forward to learning and growing with this community.

  16. I was doing exactly what you advised against…thanks for the tips! Now I’ll have to start applying them :)

    • You’re welcome Farah. I see you requested to join our community in November. If you add me to your circles, your membership will be approved if you were still interested. Jean Layton and I have also started a new series on using G+, we had our second show today.

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