Last week Google released Google+ and many of us lost hours of productivity while we begged our in-the-know friends for an invite and then spent the rest of our day building our circles and using the Hangout function to video chat. If you haven’t seen the coverage, Google+ is the search engine’s attempt at creating a social network, aggregating many of Google’s products and allowing users to create distinct circles of contacts to share information with. And it’s a surprisingly good attempt. State of Search created one of the better Google+ User Guides I’ve seen so I’d encourage you to check that out if you’re looking for more info on Google+.
Read that, but then come back here. Because that’s not all Google+ has in store, especially not for small business owners.
Mike Blumenthal interrupted his vacation to share some Google+ forecasting with us offered up by Google VP of Local and Commerce Jeff Huber. In the comment section of Mike’s blog, Jeff notes [emphasis Mike’s]:
Re:tweeting — with the recent Google+ ‘field trial’ (which is going very well) and impending launch, I expect my primary voice will be there (aka http://plus.google.com/; me on Google+: http://profiles.google.com/jhuber). Let me know anyone here that wants an invite to the G+ field trial.
And pre-emptively answering a question — yes, we will have (smb) business profile pages on Google+. I can’t announce a launch date yet, but we want to make them *great*, and we’re coding as fast as we can.
As a small business owner, you may have just groaned. With everything else there is to worry about, you really don’t need another profile to create and monitor. But, as Greg Sterling states on his blog, offering small business owners a Google+ page wouldn’t be another profile. It would be giving them a social media product. And if Google can find a natural way to integrate a SMB’s Google Place Page with new Google + functionality then that’s a win for everyone.
If you’re Google, you just took a serious chunk out of Facebook’s armor. Facebook is having a slow go getting SMBs to merge their Facebook Place Page with their Brand page. If Google can make it work the way Facebook hasn’t been able to, they solidify themselves as the one-stop-shop for small business owners. And what about Twitter? Jeff Huber noted in his comment on Mike’s blog that his primary voice will be on Google+, not Twitter. If Google can put that Twitter-like functionality into one integrated Google+/Place page, then that becomes interesting as a small business owner. Instead of a profile, you get a living, breathing page that you can use to interact with customers and have them maybe interact back. SMBs get a real social portal.
It’s too early to truly know what these pages would look like, but it is interesting see a glimpse of the future offered by Jeff Huber. It wouldn’t make sense for Google to give SMBs a separate Google+ and Google Place Page, so it’s likely we can expect some type of integration.
With that in mind, what would you want that integration to look like? What social features would help you interact with customers from your Place page? What would you like to see happen?