Setting Up and Using Google+ Business Pages
Google+ recently released its Pages for business. This means businesses and organizations can now create a presence on the Google+ social platform. While some are scrambling to stake their flags on this uncharted territory as an early adopter, others might say, “Yay, another social media channel for me to be overwhelmed by!” But Google+ offers an opportunity to deliver a different brand conversation and may become a crucial component in Google search optimizing efforts. I just created a page for my organization, and these are my impressions thus far.
Creating and Using Your Google+ Business Page
Creating a profile was easy– maybe too easy. I expected a verification process similar to Google Places for Business, but there was not one. I just simply created a page and claimed a large healthcare organization. This might be incentive to get out there and claim a page quickly before some unscrupulous types beat you to it.
It is also easy to create your Photostrip, the row of five images at the top of your page. Your Facebook pages also have this and default to show five of your latest uploaded images. G+ allows you to easily fix these images during set-up. They are also larger and bolder than Facebook’s presentation, which falls in line with the strong multimedia edge of Google+. An important note is that you cannot share images unless you choose “Public” as one of the groups to share with. When sharing any content, you can choose “Public” or any of the Circles you created, and only those groups will see posts.
One of my favorite components is the ability to edit a post after it is posted. No more agonizing over simple grammatical gaffs that stare at you from the screen for the life of the post!
This may pay homage to my simian-like intellect, but the most difficult part for me was finding out how to administer my business page once I created the profile. It honestly took me a day and a half to figure it out. Once you create a business page, return to your private profile and note the dropdown arrow beneath your name. Here, you can click on your business page and administer it that way. This is similar to how Facebook lets you post as your page. In order to post to your stream, the post originates on your personal wall but also shows up on your page wall, which feels awkward at first.
Benefits of Creating a Google+ Business Page
While in Google+, users can find a business simply by putting the plus sign in front of the name such as +marketingzeus. They also offer Google+ Direct Connect. This functionality allows users to put a plus sign in front of the business name in the Google search engine and be taken directly to the business page. Typing in +marketing_zeus in the search bar will bring Google web surfers directly to your page, once the functionality is universally applied to all business pages, which it isn’t just yet.
Right now Google Direct Connect is not offered inherently but doled out by the Google overlords to business pages based on a few things: volume of +1’s (Google’s equivalent of ‘Likes’) and other algorithmic search qualifiers, connection between the business page and website— so be sure to add your business URL to the Recommended Links area on the About page of the G+ profile— and the use of the G+ badge on your website. These add up to tell the Google search engine that the site and business profile are linked and active.
The +1 functionality serves as a “Like,” but is different from Facebook in that it just shows support from the community. Your business posts will not show up in others’ feeds until they add your page to their Circles. The +1 shows awareness while being added to people’s Circles denotes engagement.
Google+ is rolling out custom badges and code snippets for business owners and webmasters to add to their sites in order to get +1’s and adds to Circles. This will be sure to join the suite of social badges adorning most websites.
Circles, as you may know, let you separate your friends into tailored lists. This has great potential for businesses. The page comes ready with Circles like VIPs, Team Members, and Customers. You can edit these Circles to reward customers and target messaging.
Hangouts are another cool feature of G+ that may have more use in a business setting. Get together and text or video chat with team members, clients, and customers on a whole host of topics you can define.
Common Google+ Complaints
The current gripes with G+ include that there is no way to add multiple admins to a page yet, which could be a problem for large organizations, and there are not many people active in the community compared to Facebook. These issues are moot when compared to the biggest attribute of G+, search engine optimization. In personal use, it was a nice integration of a social platform with other Google tools like Google Docs and Gmail, to name a few, but the most notable integration is with Google’s trump card, search. Now websites and search are seamlessly blended with the social experience. It seems as though +1’s are figured into the Google search criteria and fans of brand’s web experience add another factor in Google’s search algorithm to determine traffic, quality, and authority.
My advice would be to get in there and test. Play with your page and get to know this new platform that presents a lot of potential. Devise a strategy for this channel that supports engagement while delivering unique content, rather than posting the same things to your Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ accounts.
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