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  • Google+ Pages for Business have Arrived!

    Google+ Pages
    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+.

    I decided to explore Google+ Pages and create a Google+ Page for HyperArts.

    Google+ Pages Features for Businesses, Brands and Bands

    It appears there are some pretty powerful features for brands using Google+ Pages, in the areas of sharing, promotion and analytics.

    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

    The Google+ Pages I checked out (Good Morning America, Angry Birds, Save the Children UK) show quite a similarity to the layout of Facebook’s Business Pages:

    Compare the Angry Birds’ Facebook Fan Page

    Angry Birds Facebook Fan Page

    with the Angry Birds Google+ Page:

    Angry Birds Google+ Page

    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:

    Google Chrome Google+ Page

    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:
    Create a Google+ Page

    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.
    Editing your Google+ Page Profile Photo

    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).

    Add more photos to your Google+ Pages Photo Strip Thumbnails

    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:

    Done editing button

    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:
    Toggle between Google+ Page and Profile

    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!

    Additional Resources

    Comments

    1. Tracy Morter says:

      I’ve been going round in circles for ages trying to find where to upload my thumbnail strip pictures too.  I don’t have “add some photos here” bit you highlight above.   Has anyone else got this problem?

    2. Mary Fletcher Jones says:

      It’s tricky but when you go to your profile, there’s a little tiny gray word for Pages and that’s what you click to get to your Page (awkward usability that) and then you get a message that you are now using Google + as a page it seems to toggle back and forth.  But it’s not very user friendly and I still am trying to add clients and companies to circles in my Page and having problems.

      ALSO I HATE how they lump videos with “photos” and call them “photos.”  What’s up with that?

    3. Mary Fletcher Jones says:

      It’s not very user friendly, you can find the page under your personal profile name. Then switch back and forth.  I don’t like it.

    4. Tracy Morter says:

      scrap the last comment..managed it now!

    5. Tracy, As I note in my post, I had all the editing fields active right after I’d created the new Page, and I was advised that I was using Google+ as my Page, not my profile.
      At some point, I got switched to my profile and ever since I haven’t found a way back to being an admin of my Page and able to make edits.
      I can only assume it’s a bug. The Page (HyperArts Web Development) isn’t listed anywhere in my settings as something my profile admins.
      Very very frustrating!

    6. That little icon doesn’t do anything for me, as my profile under which I created a new Page isn’t recognized as an admin/owner of the Page!

    7. Carley Morrow says:

      does anyone know if they are offering “vanity urls” or anything similar that needs to be “claimed”?

      Thanks

    8. I’m in NZ and have followed your link to create pages, but it doesn’t allow me to do so. It simply takes me to a page with a google personal profile set up. 

      Can you please advise if they are beta testing and when I’ll be able to set up an account…

      I have a number of clients waiting. 

      Cheers, 

      Liz 

      • Benny, I know that the ability to create a Google+ Page is being rolled out gradually. If you’re not given the option to do this when you’re logged in to your Google+ account, then you’ll have to be patient. Sorry!

    9. HI, Thanks for the info.

      Thanks for the kickstart of G+ Pages!

      I have just created my first G+ Page and all went well :)
      https://plus.google.com/115421237072840328270/posts

      1. Pay attention to the 5 profile banner photo’s in a fixed sequence which should grab your attention. The color palette and the visual design of the 5 photo’s gives the impression that they are connected and also the people will connect the text in each block in the logical flow from left to right. The text is in the Dutch language but that should not scare you away :)

      2. I wonder how I can feed my blog into this page via an Automation API or embed smart widgets on the landing page of the G+ Page for e.g. events, a snippet of the CNN News etc?

      3. The G+ Page is already in the Google SERPs just 12 hours after creating the page! You can verify this using http://www.google.be/search?q=Feestdagen+Schoolvakanties+Belgie+site:plus.google.com 

      4. The profile photo already pops up in the Google Image SERPs but if you click on it then an error occurs “the content cannot be displayed in a frame). You can verify this using http://www.google.be/search?q=Feestdagen+Schoolvakanties+Belgie+site:plus.google.com  and selecting Image Search in the Left or running this query http://www.google.be/search?q=Feestdagen+Schoolvakanties+Belgie+site:plus.google.com&hl=nl&hs=WMU&prmd=imvns&source=lnms&tbm=isch&ei=Pb27TpCQO8acOvO22MgI&sa=X&oi=mode_link&ct=mode&cd=2&ved=0CA0Q_AUoAQ 

      5. The Google Search still gives (for this subject) alot more authority to the Facebook Page in comparison with the brand new G+ Page.
      a) The FB Page is all over Page#1 of the Google SERPs whilst the G+ Page is somewhere halfway on the 2nd SERPs Page. This is of course a realistic view of the current situation and it is nice to see that the company did not artifically boost the authority of that G+ Page.
      b) Sidenote : I do not know of a faster way than creating a G+ Page to setup some Web Real Estate for a brand that will show up in the Google SERPs just a few hours after creating it on the web ! You can verify this using http://www.google.be/search?q=Feestdagen+Belgie+(site:facebook.com+OR+site:plus.google.com)

      Keep up the good work and please give credits to this G+ Page, if you like it, so the G+ company will increase its authority eventually. A folllow-up analysis in a week or so should tell us more.

      https://plus.google.com/115421237072840328270/posts


      Rolf.

    10. I have tried using Google+ but I couldn’t get myself to like it as much as i did with Facebook. I played with it for a couple of weekend but ended up deleting my account. Thanks for the information.

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