On Monday Google officially launched Pages for Google+. So what does a Page on Google+ mean for your business?
First let me explain how the interaction between users and pages work in Google+. A user is allowed to interact in the following way with a page:
- A user can +1 a page, which is effectively giving an endorsement of your page. It’s just like how a user can +1 your website to influence their friends.
- A user can share the page, an action similar to Facebook where that page will show up one time in their friend’s stream.
- A user can put the page in a circle (a Google+ feature allowing users to categorize the people they are connected to). This is similar to them liking your page on Facebook. Any posts you make will show up in that user’s stream.
- A page cannot follow users, or link to a user’s profile, until that user is already following the page.
- A page automatically unfollows users if the user stops following the page.
- A page can hangout (Google+’s multi-user video chat feature) with its users
- A page can show up in Google Search results.
- Google Search users can reach the page from Google Search by including a + before the page name.
Point number 8 is referred to as Direct Connect. Google has created a YouTube video that shows it off:
Direct Connect is not automatic. It is determined algorithmically. There are certain actions you need to perform to even make your page eligible for Direct Connect. Specifically, you need to:
- Link your Google+ page to your website under the profile section.
- Add some HTML code to the HEAD of your website. This code will look like: yourpageID]” />
Google has created icons and badges that they highly recommend you include on your site. The generated code for the badges and icons includes instructions require you to include the link code listed above, so if you add an icon or a badge to your site then you will have already taken care of step #2 above.
I will be perfectly honest here in saying that I do not like what Google is currently offering for badges. I do not like the lack of configuration options. This feature was just launched yesterday and has received a lot of negative feedback, so I expect there to come soon.
Looking back to the original list at the top, points #3-6 show that Google is focusing on building quality, loyal followers for your page. These are quality consumers that you can interact with. Google has created another YouTube video that expresses the type of interaction between brands and users:
There are currently three other critical things you need to know about pages on Google+. First, at the present moment the only person that can administer the page is the page creator. Google has re-assured us that multiple user administration and transfer of ownership is coming. Trust me, as the only person that can presently administer The BrandBuilder Company page on Google+ I am looking forward to letting my co-workers help with sharing content.
Second, you should know that at the present time there does not exist the ability to create vanity URLs. Just take a look at the URL for Pepsi on Google+:
Not a pretty URL. I have not yet found any word on whether or not this will change, but I would be shocked if it did not.
Third, the Google+ Page Content and Promotions Policy specifically prohibits promotions from being done directly within your Google+ page. You may link to a page hosted elsewhere where the promotion is being run, but Google specifically wants to distance themselves from being responsible for any applicable federal, state and local laws, rules and regulations in the jurisdiction(s) where your Promotion is offered or promoted. This may seem like a bit of a stretch for some, but there is currently legislation in the US House of Representatives that opponents believe would make sites like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter responsible for content users upload. Google may be reacting to this proposal and trying to distance themselves as best they can from responsibility for their users with Google+. And for the record, neither myself nor The BrandBuilder Company officially supporting or opposing any legislation.
I do not believe that Google+ is going to replace Facebook, at least not in the near term, but I do think it is going to create strong competition for it. I do know that people have left Facebook for Google+, so ignoring it means you are ignoring a segment of your potential customers. So go out there and create your business page today!