Google announced today the rollout of Google+ Page for businesses and brands:
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. All you need to do is start sharing, and you’ll soon find the super fans and loyal customers that want to say hello.
I have to say I’d sort of given up on Google+, as it seemed to be sliding into disuse after the initial buzz-fest that accompanied its rollout back in June 2011. And the leaked rant of the disgruntled Google employee Steve Yegge questioning Google’s instincts for social media didn’t help either!
Is it too little too late? Can Google+ rise again?
Even though Google+ Pages looks promising, one does wonder if it’s too little too late, with the initial buzz having faded. But because Google is adding Google+ Pages to its search index, this alone is a good reason for business to set up a presence on Google+.
Google+ Pages Features for Businesses, Brands and Bands
Here are some of the features Google+ Pages is touting:
- Hangouts: Provides high-quality real-time video chats with customers, with a single click.
- Circles: Businesses will be able to group their followers into smaller segments, allow you to share specific messages with specific groups. For example, you could create a Circle containing people who are your most loyal customers and offer them a special discount.
- Your customers/fans can +1 your Google+ Page, recommending your brand directly to their friends.
- Google+ Page Badges for your Website (or Facebook tab!): Google provides a couple website badge options to promote your Page on your website.
Google+ Pages and Google Search SEO Benefits
Apparently, Google will be crawling and indexing Google+ Pages and including them in search results. This alone is a compelling reason for business to put in at least some effort into developing a Page.
Facebook Fan Pages and Google+ Pages Similarities
Very similar. Both have a profile image and a five-thumbnail photo strip with images that when clicked, open to that image.
As with Facebook, you can upload larger images (in square aspect ration) and when a user clicks a thumbnail it will open the larger version of your image.
And I’m sure many will relieved that the order for the Google+ Pages photo strip is in a fixed order, with each new image added following the last one. This, of course, created some great opportunities for creatives, much as is done with Facebook Page Photo Strips.
The Pepsi Google+ Page is already working it:
And the Google Chrome Google+ Page is nice:
Also, as with Facebook, you can use Google+ as either your Page or your Profile. See below on how to toggle between your Google+ Page and your Profile.
How a Google+ Page and a Google+ Profile Differ
Similar to Facebook, there are key differences between how Google+ Pages and Profiles function.
- Page owners will have access to data about visitor demographics, shared posts, use of Google’s +1 button, as well as other analytics data. (More about Google+ Pages tracking and analytics.)
- Pages cannot add a person to a circle unless that person has already added the Page or mentioned it. Unlike Profiles, Pages do not have to represent a unique individual.
- The default privacy setting for Pages is public.
- Pages can have their own +1 button but they cannot endorse other pages or websites with a +1 vote.
- Pages cannot play Google+ Games.
- Pages lack the option to share to an extended circle.
- Pages don’t receive notifications and cannot participate in a mobile device Hangout.
- Local Pages have extra location data associated with them.
Also, currently a Google+ Page can’t have multiple admins.
Add Businesses, Bands and Brands Google+ Pages to your Circles via Google Search and Direct Connect
Google describes how you can easily connect in Google+ to your favorite businesses, bands and brands:
Maybe you’re watching a movie trailer, or you just heard that your favorite band is coming to town. In both cases you want to connect with them right now, and Direct Connect makes it easy—even automatic. Just go to Google and search for [+], followed by the page you’re interested in (like +Angry Birds). We’ll take you to their Google+ page, and if you want, we’ll add them to your circles.
Direct Connect isn’t yet rolled out beyond a sampling of 20 brands/businesses (listed here), but should be available soon. Google is definitely throwing down the gauntlet to compete toe to toe with Facebook: “Our ultimate vision for Google+ is to transform the overall Google experience weaving identity and sharing into all of our products.”
Watch Google’s YouTube video demoing Direct Connect:
How to Set up your Google+ Page
To start setting up your own business page, visit this link and sign in to your Google account.
From any Google+ area you’ll see a “Creat a Google+ Page” button:
You will be asked to fill in some information about your business, brand or page Type (Local Business or Place; Product or Brand; Corporation, Institution, or Organization; Arts, Entertainment, or Sports; and Other), Location and then you begin adding the images to populate your profile photo and photo strip.
Your Profile Photo
This should be 200 x 200 pixels, the max allowed by Google.
After you upload it, you can then edit it, clicking the little boxes at the corners and dragging them to scale your image.
I recommend creating your image at the full 200 x 200 pixels, then using just dragging the image to full size in Google+’s editing screen.
You can easily delete or edit your Profile photo by clicking the “x” at the top right corner of the image.
Adding Photos to your Google+ Page Thumbnail Photo Strip
Next, add hotos for your “photo strip” (as Facebook calls its similar row of thumbnails at the top of business pages).
You can upload larger images (make sure they are square (same height and width); they will be scaled down to 111 x 111 pixels in your photo strip.
Clicking on any one of the images opens the image at the size you created it. (I haven’t yet tested the limits on size.)
After you’ve added your strip photos, click the blue “OK” button. Then, if you’re done editing, make sure you click the “Done Editing” button in the red strip:
Interestingly, when you set up your page, Google+ warns you that you’re now using Google+ as your Page, not your profile (“You are now using Google+ as this page. Your posts, comments, and notifications will be from this page.”):
How to Switch Between your Google+ Page and your Personal Profile
As with Facebook, you can easily toggle between using Google+ as one of your Pages (yes, you can create multiple pages, all of which you admin) and your Profile.
Click on the “+Your Name” or “+Your Page” at the far left of the top black bar:
Next to the thumbnail of your profile picture, you’ll see the number of Pages you admin and an arrow. Click to arrow and select your Google+ identity from the popup dialog.
Okay, I’ve set up my Google+ Page for my Business … Now what?
First, be patient. Having created my Google+ Page today, I’ve seen all sorts of buggy behavior.
Then explore around, add other brands to your circles. Post as your Page.
And share your opinions and how you’re using Google+ Pages, in the comments!