Posted on November 17, 2011

Google+ Business Pages: the Next Facebook?

“Hottest Social Network on the Block!” – Ben Parr (Editor, Mashable)

If you haven’t heard about the newest social media outlet, Google+, I would like to educate you on the basic elements, how these features can benefit you and also share my views on what Google+ will mean for internet marketing as a whole.

A little background info: as I mentioned during my Social Media Workshop at MIMS 2011 in Las Vegas, Google+ was launched on June 28th, 2011 as a private beta test and went on to gain over 10 million users within the first 3 weeks of launch. When representatives were asked why they named this network Google+, they explained that Google+ is intended to be an improvement of everything Google itself has to offer. Google+ numbers continue to grow at a steady rate, as another burst of interest and activity occurred in the wake of the F8 Developers Conference in late September. At that time, Facebook unveiled a flurry of changes and updates that many longtime users disliked, and conversions to the new Google+ platform surged. In what was most assuredly a calculated move on Google’s part, this period also marked the shift from Google+ being a closed invite-only community to being available to everyone.

The Top 5 Features of Google+:

1. Circles – This feature allows you to separate your friends based on the categories you create. Google+ starts by creating the following circles for you: Friends, Family, Acquaintances, and Following but you can create as many categories as you wish. When posting/uploading something, you can check off which Circles you would like to see this content and it will be posted to their Stream. They have made adding people to Circles extremely easy by simply dragging a person’s profile picture and dropping it into the Circle or Circles in which you want them to be included.

2. Stream – The Stream, similar to a ‘newsfeed’ on Facebook, is where you go to view the content that your friends are posting. The benefit of the Stream vs. a newsfeed is that you can choose whether or not to view all of your Circles postings in one place OR view the postings of a specific Circle.

3. Sparks – Sparks is a fine tuned content recommendation engine. If you are looking for content to post or just something interesting to read, you can type any topic into the Sparks search bar and it will bring up the most relevant articles and videos for you to read and also share with your Circles.

4. Hangouts – This feature has been argued to be the best addition to any social media site. Hangouts is a video chat service that allows you to share with whole Circles or simply invite specific people to join. When the Hangout is live, it will post to the Streams of people who are allowed to join who can enter the Hangout until it is at maximum capacity (10 people for now). The main video screen in Hangouts changes from person to person depending on who’s speaking into the microphone. Within Hangouts, you and your friends can even watch YouTube videos together!

5. Huddle – Huddle is included in the mobile application of Google+ for smart phones. It is essentially a group texting service where you can invite people from your Circles to a text chat room and send and receive group text messages. It’s a great way to reach out to a number of people with one simple text.

Google+ Business Pages

Outside of a few test companies, however, businesses were urged to avoid signing up on Google+ when it first launched. The few that tried to sign up under the guise of personal accounts were shut down and their accounts deleted. This would be the status quo, Google explained, until they could roll out their Business Page functionality to the public. As of this month, that time has finally come. With Google+, a single login puts all things Google at your fingertips, from Email, Documents, and Profile information to Analytics data, Places listings, and AdWords controls. With the addition of the Business Page functionality, you now have the ability to claim and brand your own listings, reach out to and interact with your customers, and collect even more valuable +1 recommendations from your fans.

Just as it is with personal accounts, Business Pages are able to create Cirlces for their employees, clients, VIPs, and industry leaders. Multiple admins and vanity URLs are said to be right around the corner, and you will soon be able to Google a company’s Business Page simply by entering their “+companyname” handle into the search. Though it is not yet known exactly what other effects these Business Pages will have on SEO results, the expectation is that they will hook in quite handily with everything from local search listings to displaying a total count of everyone who has +1’ed a business on the page itself.

In addition, unlike other social media services that existed for years before attracting significant numbers of business clients, Google+ Business Pages offer you the rare opportunity of getting in on the ground floor just as the service is taking off. Other companies might be late to the party, but you are uniquely positioned to take ownership of your business name and listings ASAP. To help you establish your brand on this new social platform, Glacial Multimedia is happy to offer a heavily discounted setup fee for Google+ Business Page accounts for the remainder of the 2011 calendar year. We are also including it in our Social Media Suite effective immediately.