Does your business need a Google+ business page?

Google+ logo

Earlier this month Google+ (or Google Plus) launched its highly anticipated Business Pages. I must admit I have not paid much attention to Google+ but following a recent Facebook status update from a friend (who works at an online marketing agency) saying “anyone who owns a business or is responsible for marketing a business should set up a Google + Business Page” I thought I had better investigate what Google+ is all about.

In this blog I summarise what I have learned about Google+ and Google+ Business Pages.

What is Google+

Social networking platform Google+, Facebook’s supposed new rival, was launched in June of this year. Much like the more established platforms of Facebook and Twitter, it allows users to connect with other users – either people they know, or people in whom they are interested.

What are Google+’s Key Features?

The key features of Google+ are:

  • The Stream – essentially the same thing as a Facebook newsfeed  – where all of your information and updates from your contacts are aggregated and constantly updated.
  • Circles – you separate your contacts into ‘circles’ enabling you to filter what you share with whom.
  • Hangout – you can choose specific friends, or circles, to invite for a face-to-face video chat and anyone in the Hangout can invite others to join as well.
  • Huddle – this feature allows smartphone users to instant message contacts over Google+.
  • Sparks – you tell Sparks what sort of things you like and it’ll send you things that might interest you which you can then watch, read or share.
Last week a recent study into Google+ by ICM Research was reported inMarketing magazine (“Most Brits fail to understand Google+ says study“). The study found that Google+ has attracted between 4% and 5% of the online adult population in Britain among the 40 million global users Google claims to have signed up. Out of the 32,000 UK adults who were polled, 61% of them had heard of it and 17% claimed to use it. Further investigation by ICM revealed only a third of them were in fact using it and the remainder were mistaking it for something else.
So, Google+ as the new kid on the block still has a long way to go.

What are Google+ Business Pages?

Google+ business pages function in the same way as personal profiles. You can post updates, links, photos, videos and more and you have a home feed (“Stream”) of the people you follow. Businesses can create a page under one of five categories:

  • Local Business or Place
  • Product or Brand
  • Company, Institution or Organization
  • Arts, Entertainment or Sports
  • Other

It is perfectly acceptable for businesses to have multiple business pages so a business could have separate pages for its sub-brands or products. Another feature is Direct Connect which lets you quickly navigate to a Google+ page (and even add that page to your circles) when using Google Search. For example, if you searched for the query ‘+youtube’ or ‘+pepsi,’ you could be immediately taken to the YouTube Google+ page, or the Pepsi Google+ page, and given the option to add the page to your circles.

Unfortunately you can’t add people to your business page circles unless they have already circled your business page from their personal profile. This means you have to wait for people to circle you before you can circle them back. This limits its functionality as a marketing tool and means you will have to promote your page through other channels. You can, however, add other business pages.

Why should you set up a Google+ Business Page?

So why  might it be a good idea for you to set up a Google+ Business Page, some reasons include:

  • Search is a huge feature that Google can and will leverage for Google+. If Google decides to integrate its own Google+ live feed into Search, which is highly likely, businesses who are adding to their Stream on Business Pages will have a chance to appear in organic search results. Facebook has no penetration into the search market.
  • Google can (and probably will) integrate the new Google+ pages with Google Places, which appear in its Maps search results. This would allow a user to interact directly with a business after it appeared on Google Maps. Currently, users can see static rankings of a given business from Google Places, but integrating Google+ profiles would allow users to ask questions or offer feedback in real time.
  • The Hangout feature enables businesses to communicate face-to-face with its customers. This could be in the form of a Q&A session or even a client meeting conducted through Google+.
  • As a precaution, it is probably a good idea to create a page to “hold” your business name and prevent anyone impersonating you. A fake home page for Bank of America, which claimed to be “committed to making as much money as possible from usury, coercion, bribery, insider trading, extortion and debit card fees as possible” remained online for a whole week before being taken down.

However, as with any form of marketing before you rush off and set up your Google+ Business Page you should consider where Google+ fits within your social media strategy and overall marketing strategy. Despite the hype surrounding social media it is not necessarily the right marketing platform for every business.

Straight Marketing now has a Google+ Business Page so please circle it from your personal profile! You can find it by clicking here.

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