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The responsibilities of a community manager don’t stop the minute you walk away from your desk. How many times have you responded to a tweet from your smartphone or scheduled a Google+ post from your tablet? Mobile devices are more than just a back-up tool for community managers, which is why social apps need to provide similar functionality and experience as offered by their browser-based counterparts.

The latest social network to deliver important upgrades to its mobile experience is Google+. To help make its iOS app much more valuable to community managers on the go, the company rolled out new abilities for Community Moderators. Other improvements include performance upgrades, a revamped Explore experience and more precise location-sharing controls.

Launched in December 2012, Google+ Communities enable you to form groups based around a specific interest, organization, or passion. Any Google+ Page can create and “own” a Community, which is what makes this such a great opportunity to expand your reach on Google+. In addition to targeted messaging, Communities also enable you to start a Hangout with members or share things specifically with your group using any +1 button.

In the updated version of Google+’s iOS app — released on March 7th — Community Moderators and Owners can now highlight posts in their Community by pinning it to the top of the stream. That post will then be marked as “Pinned by moderator” and members will see the post at the top of their Community stream until you unpin it. First introduced on desktop on March 3rd, the “Pin post” option can be found on any post in your Community.

Not sure what you can do with a Google+ Community? Here are three unique ways brands are using Communities to engage with fans.

Microsoft

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There are a lot of Google+ Communities created around brands and products out there that aren’t officially linked to the brand or product it’s promoting. However, Microsoft isn’t one of them. The company created this Community to share the latest Microsoft-related news on Google+, as well as giving customers a place to ask for help with its products or services.

With more than 11,000 members, the fans really carry the Community with regular participation. Posts include everything from Microsoft-related articles and feature highlights to photos of newly-acquired Microsoft products. Even without daily participation from the company directly, it can keep a close eye on what customers are saying, sharing, and most importantly, buying.

U-Pack Moving

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Unlike Microsoft, U-Pack Moving takes a much more hands-on approach with its Google+ Community. The company uses this space to share tips on how to make long-distance moving easier by sharing content from its own website mixed with posts from other moving-related brands.

Those brands share helpful information related to a move, including tips on how to pack a self-storage unit or how to get rid of furniture dents left in the carpet. By opening up the community to other businesses as well as customers, U-Pack has put together a great resource for anyone considering a relocation.

Ford

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It might not be as image-heavy as Pinterest, but Google+ can be a very visual platform. Sharing photos is very easy, and the images stand out well among the other text-related posts. Ford capitalizes on this balance with the Ford Photo Community. Here, fans of the automaker are invited to share their Ford-related images.

With just under 9,000 members, this Community is a great place for auto enthusiasts to connect and show off their favorite Fords. It’s also a smart way for the company to promote its vast line of cars through user-generated content.

These are just a few examples of the public Google+ Communities created by brands. There are hundreds of others dedicated to brands and products with no official representation behind them. This is either because brands have created private Communities or haven’t taken advantage of the feature yet. In either case, it’s worth doing a search for your company to see what people are saying about you in those Communities.

If you’re interested in creating a Community of your own, you’ll first need to decide if it will be public or private. Once you’ve made your decision and know what you’d like to call your Community, you can start the creation process. From there, you can add a photo, complete the about section, and invite people to join. When your Community is up and running, you can keep up with what’s happening in it from your mobile device.

[Image credit: Vernon Chan, Nathan O’Nions, Steve Arnold]