Google + launched at the start of the year and is Google’s best effort to date to break the social networking headlock that Facebook has applied so expertly in recent years. Leveraging the huge user base of Google accounts for services such as Gmail and Picasa, Google + has over 40 million registered users and it has grown faster than both Twitter and Facebook.
Up until last night the platform was only available to individual users with a Google account – however, the introduction of Pages for businesses, brands and places will increase the amount of consumer centric content and we should expect to see awareness increase further over the coming weeks. You can read more about Google + Pages here and here.
The key differences that we can see at the moment between profile pages and business pages are:
Pages can’t add people to circles until the page is added first or mentioned
The default privacy setting on your page profile is public (so be careful with those office party pictures!)
Pages have the +1 button
Pages can’t +1 other pages, or other stuff on the Web
Pages don’t receive notifications via email, text, or in the Google bar.
Pages can’t use the Hangout (video chat functionality) on mobile.
Local pages have special fields that help people find the business’ physical location.
As we understand it, everyone should now have access to be able to create their business or brand page which can fit into the following five categories:
Local Business or Place
Product or Brand
Company, Institution or Organisation
Arts, Entertainment or Sports
For local business that have already claimed their Google Places, there is currently no way of connecting the two as Google want to keep Places tied to Google Maps and local search while the Pages functionality will focus on keeping customers or fans engaged.
What this means for Social Media Marketers:
It’s going to be very similar to running a Facebook brand page. You access your page through a personal account but you’ll have the ability to choose whether you want to act as yourself or the business page.
You can do many of the same things that a personal account can do, including:
Conduct Hangouts– this is a feature which we think could be a real USP for Google + Pages over the other major social networks, as brands can conduct ‘How To’s’ or ‘face to face’ videos with customers or Fans. The Muppets + Page have already posted a Hangout with Kermit and Miss Piggy (unfortunately we missed it but will be there for the next one).
Pages can follow people, but not until they’ve first been followed. This is a welcome development to the way Twitter currently operates, where business accounts follow a load of people in the hope of getting a follow-back. With Google +, you will need to earn the follow.
Apparently it’s cool for a business to have multiple Google+ pages. So if you are a company with multiple brands, that’s certainly a bonus – but only if you have a good reason for each entity to have its own dedicated page.
There’s likely to be Google+ API release in the future so expect a wave of development to be done with that in the form of apps, similar to what we’ve seen with Facebook.
What this means for SEO Marketers:
The launch of Pages is going to have an impact on SEO as not only are these going to be included in the Search results (as yet unclear exactly where) but how people interact and share with the + pages is likely to be fed back and used in the calculation of the Search results.
Google is encouraging business and people to connect (and it wants that data), so it is important not only to set up your business profile but engage with your customers through this channel. This will have obvious benefits for users and customers but will also feed positive data to Google to help improve your position in the Search results.
As well as this you are able to search directly for a Brand or business by entering the ‘+Site’ query – for example +Pepsi
What this means for PPC and Display Marketers:
The Google+ Page will serve as both the social hub connecting all aspects of a brand’s presence across the Google network. Google’s +1 has been spreading across the web for months and brands will now be able to connect the dots via these pages.
We think Google+ will have an impact on the targeting and delivery of both PPC & display on Google as user adoption rises. Marketers who leverage the +1 button may see benefits through visibility, relevancy and targeting and performance.
That’s our 2 cents worth for the moment. If you are a current I Spy client then expect a call very soon to discuss this further and
You can check out the I Spy Page here. It will get more interesting soon (don’t worry!).
Ed Hartigan, Crowd Control account director, I Spy Marketing