After much anticipation, we’re finally seeing Google + Pages for business. They function much like Google personal profiles do: you can update your status, add people to Circles, host video Hangouts (video conferences) with others, and interact with other brands and people.
Think of a Google + business Page as a mini website for your business, with social networking features built in, and hosted by Google.
The Official Google Blog says:
“For businesses and brands, Google+ pages help you connect with the customers and fans who love you. Not only can they recommend you with a +1, or add you to a circle to listen long-term. They can actually spend time with your team, face-to-face-to-face.”
What’s In it For Google
As you might expect, Google wants to make Google + as integrated as possible with other Google products. So the following two features are not that big a surprise:
The first feature is called Direct Connect. If you are searching on Google for a brand, simply put the + symbol before your search term to find the direct link to the company’s Google + Page (if they have one). You’ll automatically follow the company by searching with the new “+ company name” if you choose this option, and be taken to its Google + Page.
The other feature is simply that Google + Pages (and Profiles) appear in Google search. In searching my own name, my Profile was the first result. I’m not sure if this is a good thing or not. But at the very least, if you regularly update your Profile, it seems like a good way to connect with other Google + users.
What’s In It For Small Businesses
The new Pages provide another online place for any business, including small businesses, to get exposure to new potential customers as well as to connect with existing contacts. Melinda Emerson, The Small Biz Lady, set up her business Page today. Emerson said:
“My team and I grabbed my Page for my SmallBizLady brand because we believe in the long term integration strategy of Google +. And we want to be a part of it.”
With Google’s Direct Connect forging a link between its Plus + product and Google search, small businesses have more opportunity to be found. Also, you’ll have the ability to target different segments of your audience through Circles (think different “circles” for Prospective Customers, Women 18-35, Men 60+, or even Employees). That means you’ll be able to target messages much easier to different demographics or groups of people. You can also see what conversations are going on in each of your circles — great for market research.
There are a few drawbacks at this early stage of Google +. One is the lack of vanity URLs. Right now, your profile URL looks like this: https://plus.google.com/u/1/112445753792040250232/posts. I’m sure Google will get around to putting in user names or brand names in this, but for now, it’s unsightly. And long and non-user-friendly.
Google + Pages are also lacking analytics, and I’m sure that will be addressed as well. But for now, I want to know why I should put more effort into using Google +, and analytics are a great way to convince me. After all, if I’m getting traffic to my Google + Page, and analytics show it, then it may be worth my while.
Jesse Stay, author of Google + for Dummies said:
“Plus Pages aren’t going to be exactly like Facebook Pages – that may be the “con”, per se, since they don’t have near as many features. They don’t allow more than one admin to use the interface, there are no social media management tools that you can interface yet, which makes management of these Pages much more difficult. However, I expect Google to fix these issues soon and iterate quickly…It’s worth it right now to get in early while the buzz is strong so you can build an audience now on this new network.”
With over 40 million signups in the first few months since Google + launched, adding Business Pages, which many of us have been waiting for, should only boost those user numbers. But will it be the Facebook Killer? Only time will tell.
Ready to jump on the Google + bandwagon with your business? Sign up here.
NOTE: it appears that you must first have a Google account to create a Google + Business Page.