Fitness and Nutrition Community Case Study
I’m relatively new to social media and willingly confess that its value to me personally and to my work was always suspect. For those of you in the business, no doubt you would find my excuses for devaluing social media were not far removed from what you hear every day from prospective clients.
It was my introduction to Google Plus and Google Plus Communities that changed those misconceptions. Perhaps it was the use of words like “content” and “authorship” that struck a chord and encouraged me to take a closer look. My introduction started on October 18, 2012; I filled out a profile on Google Plus and posted What’s Your BMI? as my “hello G+, I am here” moment. That first post received 4 +1’s!
Nevertheless, I jumped feet first into the Google Plus stream, interested in finding and sharing content related to my work as medical liaison with DRS Health, Inc. I built circles around people involved in healthcare, nutrition and fitness; along with a Google support circle of those who could help me learn and navigate through this personal experiment with Google Plus. It did not take long to learn the ropes and enjoy engaging on a daily basis. I surrounded myself with quality contributors to the topics most important to me and as these first online contacts and relationships grew, I began to enjoy a small circle of influence. Little did I know that the best was yet to come.
The day that Google Plus Communities was released, I began to create communities that related to my circles. The Community that received the most attention was Fitness & Nutrition Community. My vision was a community where the novice and beginner could interact with fitness and nutritional professionals.
Community Best Practices
I set a few best practice guidelines for the community members such as no spam and no direct marketing of personal products or services. For myself, I made a commitment to engage with each new member post with a hello, welcome and +1. I learned to weed out the “blue heads” (profiles with no photo, very often spammers) and identify spam, multi-level marketing posts, etc.
Moving to a strategic level, I began to concentrate on those I identified as either experts in their field or enthusiasts of specific topics within the fitness and nutrition platform. Then I created specific categories that appealed to them, hoping that they would consistently share on my community.
Another best practice that proved beneficial was specifically asking those same contributors for help in answering member questions. For example, if a member asked a community question, I would comment on their post, “Reaching out to (insert expert here) for help on this.” This best practice proved very beneficial because it encouraged an interaction that perhaps would have otherwise never happened. This specific best practice accomplished two things: first, it let my members know Fitness and Nutrition was listening and second, the expert knew their opinion was valuable to my community. They gained a loyal follower and I gained a faithful contributor.
Fitness and Nutrition Takes Off!
The first week of February 2013, I received a very brief message from the health and wellness platform manager of Google Plus. It simply stated that my Fitness and Nutrition Community had been on their radar for several weeks and would I like to have a hangout to discuss communities and my vision for the future.
My answer… YES!
I must admit, a part of me was hesitant at the thought of getting this “I’ve been watching you…” kind of message, but the Google Hangout proved enlightening. You see, it was validation that I was engaging in my community the way Google intended it to be used. My community did not have the largest membership, but it was our consistent engagement and credible content that set us apart from other, much larger communities under the same platform. I was offered verification for my personal profile and an open ear to Google for any future Google Plus projects.
Meeting First Lady Michelle Obama
One amazing bonus came the first week of March when I was invited to participate in a Hangout with First Lady Michelle Obama to discuss her Let’s Move initiative.
Fitness and Nutrition Community continues to grow, and I’ve added 3 moderators to help with spam and engagement. Just recently I learned F&N can rank in Google search! Currently we are at the bottom of page 4 for a “fitness and nutrition” search, which is a two page jump from just two weeks ago. With this new understanding of the power of Google Plus Community, I’ve begun to apply Google Page Rank tools into Fitness and Nutrition. My goal is to have Fitness and Nutrition Community rank as close to page one of a fitness and nutrition search as I can.
Google Plus has now become a part of my daily activity both at home and in the office. I continue to build strong relationships and apply the tools I’ve been given. I’m still learning, still engaging and still making mistakes, but I’ve found that mistakes turn into experience and experience is invaluable here on Google Plus.