Google+ for Business: Wait or Jump?

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It’s been 10 days now since Google+ announced the launch of its Pages for Business. As discussed in a prior post, Google’s social network initially launched without support for companies – a sought-after feature offered by the search giant’s biggest rival in the social space, Facebook.

Now that the Pages program has launched, though, the reaction is decidedly mixed. Supporters note that Google+ offers brands the ability to segment followers using its “Circles” feature and message to them differently. Google+ starts off with circles called “Customers”, “VIPs” and “Team Members,” but merchants can create their own custom circles according to their business model and add followers to more than one circle at a time. For example, this brand-new winery page can add future followers to circles for customers, for subscribers to its loyalty wine club program, and to fans of red or white wines.

example of Google+ circles used for a business Additionally, as predicted, the platform is indeed on track to integrate with Google’s other applications and services, starting most notably with search. Google users who type a “+” before a brand name in the search box will be routed directly to that brands Google+ page – a more direct route than searching a brand name plus “Facebook” and clicking on the correct link (which is not always the top result).

The Wired Enterprise blog on Wired News opined that the marketing power of these allied services will eventually trump other social networks:

“With a broad array of services like search and Gmail and Chrome and Android, Google offers tools that are fundamental to the online lives of so many people — and these can be tied to Google+. As Google+ evolves, Google will have the means to promote its social network — and the branded Pages within it — in ways that Facebook or Twitter cannot.”

But for detractors, the key word is “eventually.” Social media watchers who report being less than enthralled with the Google+ for Business rollout claim the service offers little in the way of innovative features — even though, as a latecomer to the game, Google has had more time to size up the market.

Among the features Google+ lacks are customizable (vanity) URLs, the ability to assign more than one administrator to a page, and support for interactive tools such as quizzes and polls – not to mention transactions. As ZDNet’s Social Business blogger put it,

“It’s evident (once again), that you have a company with amazing technology, scientists and engineers who even after years of seeing how businesses are using Facebook, still either left out, or chose not to create, almost all of the crucial components used by marketers to engage and build their communities.”

Of the merchants who’ve jumped onto Google+, some are using the platform to mimic their Facebook presence, with similar posts and content. For example, here’s the Wall of H&M’s Facebook page:

H&M's Facebook WallAnd here are the brand’s Google+ Posts:

H&M's Google+ page

Still others have established a foothold on Google+, but have yet to dive in with frequent posts. Three days after launch, luxury brand Piaget’s Google+ page featured a single post welcoming new users. In the same timeframe, the brand’s Facebook page featured three posts.

Piaget's Google+ post

In short, with the rollout of Google+ for Business occurring in the midst of the peak holiday season, many merchants are likely to put this on the to-do list for 2012 rather than leaping on board now. But you should consider launching a Google+ page sooner if:

  • Your audience fits the Google+ profile. With Google+ claiming 40 million followers to Facebook’s 800 million, it’s a less crowded venue for connecting with early-adopter technology fans. As the Wired column put it, “At this point, Google+ Pages are where businesses interact with web denizens on the cutting edge of net technology, and Facebook is where you interact with everyone else.”
  • You face stiff competition from a broad field of competitors. Because Google+ is less crowded, it offers brands a better opportunity to stand out — and the direct search integration with Google can give your brand a boost.

For more information on Google+ pages, check out:

What do you think of Goole+ pages? Do you plan to launch one soon?

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