This morning, Google announced the worldwide release of Google + Pages via blog post, establishing itself as the newest competitor to Facebook’s Pages. For consumers, this comes as a rapid advancement for the Google + network, but for marketers who tried to get an account when Google + was first released, it’s about time.
“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,” writes Vic Gundotra, Google senior vice president of engineering.
Earlier in the year when Google + beta was unveiled, marketers rushed to build their social branding presence. New business pages were quickly deferred and deleted by Google in effort to make Google+ user-centric at first. To disgruntled marketers, Google said there would be upcoming solutions—and now here we are. Almost. For the time being, Google + Pages are only available to select companies.
Google + Pages has launched with big brand names leading the healm and stretching the gammot of social influence. Key names include Pepsi, The New York Times, Burberry, Save the Children UK, Coldplay, and of course, it’s own Google and YouTube Pages. With the ability to create video and chat “hangouts” with a Page’s social circle, G+ Pages is creating an intruiging cool factor for personal connection.
Pepsi on Google +
Google+ Pages Profiles look somewhat like a ghost town compared to the application add ons with Facebook’s platform; however, the basics are there. Google has set up its brand Profile Pages similar to Facebook, with a main focus on the Stream. Brands can post “what’s new” via video, photo, text, attachments, and location-based check ins. With the popularity of mobile companies like food trucks, Google + decision to add check-ins could be a leveragable integration. Otherwise, Profiles are simple. There is the Stream, an About page, and tabs for Videos and Photos. In testing, we found the check-ins are not quite debugged.
While Facebook has been getting rid of internally built features for Pages, like Discussions, Google has built in a variety of extra tabs– but only related to the Stream. For Pages, there are several Stream categories: Following, Customers, VIPs and Team Members. Google and Facebook Pages can both be accessed via mobile apps. As we’ve reported, the iPhone/iPad has 52.3 million daily active users and 92.7 million monthly active users according to AppData, so marketers tapping into both Google + and Facebook pages have ample opportunity to gain consumers.
Similar to Facebook Pages geographic targeting for posting, G+ is taking a age-related route to “targeting.” Content on a G+ Page can be posted to any G+ user, or limited to 18 years or older. Soon, content visibility can be limited to 21 and older and anything alcohol-related. Similar to Facebook, Google is focusing its Pages on storytelling and connecting. Google prohibits contests or sweepstakes, and doesn’t provide any promotion-related opportunities as Facebook does.
Of all the Google + Pages hype, the most promising and differentiating feature is the ability to Direct Connect from Google search to a Google+ Page.
Remember when typing in + used to bring up more advanced Google searches? They took it away for a reason. It’s now called Direct Connect. To search for a company Google+ Page, users just indicate [+] in the search bar, and the Page will appear. Users can then option to automatically join the circle of anything they put a [+] next to. For example, users looking to join the Twilight circle before the movie comes out can just type in +Twilight to be seamlessly integrated to its social circle.
For developers, the feature takes an extra code that will be picked up by crawlers and approved before a Page can Direct Connect. Like the general G+ Pages feature, this ability is limited to a select number of companies at present.[Thanks to Eti Suruzon for the tip]