The wait is over, and the Google+ brand pages are finally available to any business that wants to boost its online visibility.
While sceptics may rush to remind you of the flops of that were Google buzz and Google Wave, we don’t think that is relevant to Google+ and the new brand pages in particular. The reason is that Google is integrating Google+ very strongly with other Google products that already have a very strong user base, starting from its most widely used product, the Google search engine.
When people search for something while logged into their Google account, they will now see relevant Google+ brand pages that people in their Google circles have +1’d. It goes without saying that a +1 vote counts as a personal recommendation, and users are much more likely to follow a search results link to a page a friend likes. This is a huge advantage over Facebook pages, and a very big incentive for you to build your Google+ brand page and get friends and customers to +1 it. Besides, people can simply search for +yourcompanyname (adding a ‘+’ sign before your company’s name) and your branded page will show up. So far, so good!
You can already measure Google+ performance with Google Analytics and we are looking forward to seeing how Google will tie in Google+ and these brand pages with its other platforms like Gmail and Android,. If they get it right (fingers crossed!), the most exciting times for social network marketing may be just round the corner.
With that in mind, there are a few non-trivial niggles with Google+ brand pages as they are right now, as Robert Scobles points out in a rather pessimistic post. We’d like to hope that Google can iron out the issues and get on with a number of things we want to see implemented.
For example, at the moment, you can only manage your pages through one Google account and this is a problem for companies that need to put several people in charge of a brand page. Also, because Google requires accounts to be in the name of a real person, it’s not as simple as creating a dummy admin account for everyone to share (which itself has its drawbacks). Come on, Google, fix this quickly so that social media teams can easily work together!
We expect Google+ brand page management and Google Places page management to become integrated sometime soon. Also, how about a mobile app to publish photos directly to your brand page as you can do with Facebook, Twitter and Flickr? And why can’t Google+ business pages give a +1 to websites that the company likes?
We really want to see Google+ succeed because of its immense potential to be integrated with Google’s other platforms, as we already mentioned. Hopefully, someone over at Google Labs is paying attention to what people are saying and is busily cracking their whip. With a bit of luck, we’ll see something to get really excited about in a forthcoming update!
In the meantime, see how other businesses are developing their Google+ brand pages and create your own.
Also work on integrating your social media accounts with each other by using the same GMail address for your Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc. In Google+, build your network and organise people into different circles that represent your relationships with them. For example, you can have a circle for clients and another for prospects. Or you can have separate circles for people who use your different products or services. In this way, you can target your posts at specific groups, so that people only receive information that is relevant to them. This also gives you the flexibility to present your message in the best way for each group, or to publish open posts when you want to reach everyone at the same time.
So, while you’re waiting for those updates to Google+, there still is a lot you can take advantage of right now. Go for it!