The State of Google+ For Business.
If you hadn’t already heard, Google recently launched the public beta of its latest foray into social media – Google+. Unlike the modest beginnings of companies like Facebook and Twitter, Google+ has skyrocketed to more than 25 million users since its June release. I recently received an invite to join the beta and see what it’s all about.
I’ll be brief here, but I thought it might be helpful to outline some of the main features and experiences I’ve had with Google+ during my time toying around with it. First, if you use Twitter or Facebook at all, you’ll have no trouble figuring out Google+. Like the other two social media giants, every Google+ user gets a profile to customize. Here, you can upload photos and videos, create a little ‘about’ section, etc.
The Google+ Circles feature is different. When you add a connection in Google+ (through a handy Find People search bar), he or she does not just get added to a universal ‘friends’ or ‘following’ list – you decide which of your “circles” to put them in. Circles are the Google+ answer for organizing the people you want to be connected to. Let’s face it, even though it says we have 622 friends on our Facebook profile, do we actually consider them all friends? Do we really want to share personal information and photos with everyone on that list?
For example, say I decide to add one of my co-workers to my profile, I can place her in my Friends, Family, Work, Acquaintance, or Following Circles. If she gets placed in my Work Circle, she will only see posts, pictures, or videos that I designate that circle to see. Now I can be confident that my boss won’t see any of my embarrassing family dinner photos!
Google+ for Business?
Though Google+ has some great features, its integration with businesses has seen some trouble.
It’s no surprise that companies would would jump into Google+ as soon as they could: 20 million users in about a month is a lot.
So many businesses did just that, setting up Google+ handles for their businesses. Soon after, a majority of these businesses found their accounts getting suspended and shut down. You can definitely assume that this caused a bit of anger.
The reason for all of these suspensions is due to the fact that Google+ accounts are strictly for real people, with real names. So, if you intend to name your Google+ account with your company name or your blogging identity, you can expect a suspension.
Interestingly, there is a work around for savvy businesses to sneak on Google+, and it’s very simple. Simply change your company account name to a real person’s name. For example, mega-blog Mashable’s page was changed to Pete Cashmore – the Mashable CEO. As long as your page is attached to a real human, go nuts.
But wait. So there is no real Business Support for Google+?
That’s what I thought when exploring Google+, but then I found out that Google is already working on full business pages and profiles. The reason they don’t want business pages for consumer profiles is that there will be no way to transfer them to the business accounts they plan to create.
Due to the huge demand for business support, Google has allocated more resources to this feature, and is trying to get it ready for release as fast as they can. As for an actual release date for these features – all they promise is sometime this year.
To see where Google + is on the business front, Google has recently allowed Ford Motor Company to make a Google+ business profile. From my experience with the page, it’s really no different than a standard Google+ page, on the front end at least. On the back end, we can expect something more powerful than its little friend Facebook. Instead of providing bare minimum statistics and analytics like Facebook Pages, Google+ is going to integrate with its existing analytics platform - Google Analytics. This is going to give businesses on Google+ an overload of customer information, compared to Facebook.
Google is at its Core, a Search Engine
Even though Google is dipping its toes into the lucrative land of social media, the Google search engine remains at the core of everything. For businesses, this is great as Google+ accounts will have more prominence on search engines over other social media. In fact, whenever a Google+ account shares a link publicly, this will show up in friend’s search results. While still in its infancy, it’s quite easy to assume that the search giant will further integrate its social media with its search engine.
To keep everyone informed of Google+ advancements and updates, Google has created a ‘What’s new in Google+’ page. In it are various developer videos with commentary on new and planned features for Google+. It also seems like they are listening to its current users; originally, gender had to be decided when someone created a Google+ account. But, due to popular request, it is no longer required in respect of peoples’ privacy concerns. So, if you are as interested as I am in the future of Google+ and just how it will integrate with businesses, I’d bookmark that page.