Google's social network is now ready for business. The Google+ social network has grown at a decent pace with over 40 million members, but Google was slow to open it up for businesses and brands. But, Google recently made Google+ available for Google Apps subscribers, and now it has finally rolled out Google+ Pages for businesses and brands.
What are Google+ Pages? Not surprisingly, a Google+ Page is a lot like a Facebook Page. The Google+ Page provides a means for businesses to establish a presence on Google's social network and engage with customers to share new products or services, provide added value, answer support questions, and more.
Individuals Google+ users can connect with the companies and brands they love. They can +1 (the Google+ equivalent of "Liking" a Facebook Page) Google+ Pages to share with the rest of their social network.
The official Google Blog describes Google+ Pages, "Google+ Pages give life to everything we find in the real world. And by adding them to circles, we can create lasting bonds with the pages (and people) that matter most."
Now that Google+ Pages are available, it will be interesting to see if businesses race to jump on the Google social network, or if they prefer to stick to Facebook and take a more cautious approach to Google+. There are reasons for businesses and brands to take advantage of Google+ Pages, but entities that are already invested in Facebook Pages may be reluctant to devote the additional effort to maintaining a dual presence on the nascent Google social network.
Like Facebook, Google+ is fertile ground for businesses looking to forge stronger customer relationships and instill brand loyalty. The word-of-mouth endorsements, and +1s from trusted individuals within the social network carry a lot of marketing weight and present a great opportunity for businesses to promote their brands.
Google+ users can add Google+ Pages to Circles as well. Google+ Circles make it easy to stay informed of any new offers or services, any important support or recall information a business might share, and other valuable information, while also giving users a way to filter that information out if they choose.
For the most part, a Google+ Page is basically just a Google+ Profile that is set up for a business or brand rather than an individual. It is also just like what the 800 million Facebook users are accustomed to with Facebook Pages. Google did bring a little something more to the table, though.
Google adds unique edge to its business pages with Direct Connect. Google+ Pages will be indexed and appear in Google search results, but you can also jump straight to the Google+ Page of a business by simply typing "+" followed by the business name. For example, typing "+Toyota" in a Google search bar will take you directly to the Google+ Page for Toyota.
For businesses, there are still some questions to address. Should you set up a Google+ Page for your business? Should you maintain it in addition to a Facebook Page, or abandon Facebook and just move to Google+? Should you share the same posts and information on both Facebook and Google+, or are they unique audiences that should have unique information and interactions?
I will continue to dive in and share more details about the how and why of Google+ Pages in the coming days and weeks.