Google Plus is now open for business and open to business, both on a local and global scale. While it really has taken less than six months for the social network to open its doors to businesses and brands the wait has felt like an eternity as speculation, along with anticipation have mounted.
Google took the unusual step of removing business pages from its network in the early days saying that the functionality is different and they had to be a little patient. While the appearance of Business Pages is very similar to that of G+ profiles there are under-the-hood differences which we will talk about in a moment, first however, the official gospel from Google itself:
Now that you have seen the syrupy stuff and are ready to make friends of all your customers you really want to know just what the benefits will be in having a Business Page on G+ and how you can get one. Let’s tackle things one at a time.
How to Get a Business Page on Google Plus
In order to create a business page on Google’s social network you need to get to the Business Page Creation Tool and click on one of the choices which best represents your business.
For the record these are:
- Local Business or Place
- Product or Brand
- Company, Institution or Organization
- Arts, Entertainment or Sports
It’s important you do a little thinking here because each works a little differently to the others, or rather, Local works differently to the rest in terms of functionality but all the others work in a unique way in terms of how you style them and the way you will use them (an Institution, for instance will not connect the same way with its members as a Business – or at least it shouldn’t as then at least one of them would be doing something wrong).
Local Business Needs More Information
Google’s own information on local pages states that:
Local Google+ pages are unique from other categories of pages because they have features that allow customers to easily connect with that business’s physical location. For example, local pages include a map of the business’s location and feature its address, phone number, and hours of operation.
If this sounds a little familiar it is because it actually is. The information required is not dissimilar to that which businesses had to enter in Google Places. Unfortunately there is no porting that data over from Google Places to G+ the two pages interact in a different way and the G+ Business Page is actually socialised and has different functionality to Google Places with no plans, as yet, to integrate them. As a matter of fact Google explains that not only is the functionality of Google Places and Google Plus Business Pages different, the intent is as well:
Currently, Place pages and Google+ Pages must be managed separately. A Place page provides information about a business and makes it easy for customers to find local businesses on Google Maps and local search; while a Google+ page provides business owners with additional ways to engage, build relationships and interact directly with customers.
Creating a Google+ Business Page (is it really different to a Facebook Business Page?)
Well, the creation process for Business Pages on Google Plus is not hugely different to Facebook Business Pages as far as the choices go. This you would expect as they are governed by logic and Facebook and Google Plus differences aside this is really about doing business on Terra Firma and the process of categorising each is the same.
There is, however, a significant difference (or two) which are central to Google+ and why you should be thinking of having a business page there if you have not done so already. The first obvious one is the vanity URL. Currently on G+ it’s just a string of numbers, this may change but it really does not matter. On Facebook you needed to have your Business Page name carefully worked out as you would also get a vanity URL which would help you with search.
Search is practically owned by Google so on G+ you have findability with search as navigation. Currently on a limited roll out Google Plus offers something called Direct Connect which would allow those looking to find you to type +Your Business Name or +Your Business Page Name and your G+ Business Page profile would show up on search. This would allow those looking not just to find you with a single click but also add your business to their circles straight from search.
Direct Connect is amazing though at its current limited roll out it’s not yet available to everyone. Again there is an enthusiastic video about it so let us go and see it first:
Direct Connect is not the only difference of course. Unlike Facebook Pages, Google+ Business Pages allow you to change the name of your page whenever you like. There is a small catch here because if you have gone into the trouble to verify your Business Page, changing its name will need you to re-verify it, so there has to be a good reason for the change.
The other difference, which is in the pipeline, is multiple page admins. Currently the person who creates the Google Plus Business Page is also the admin but Google has promised the flexibility to have several admins running a page.
Currently it offers the option to have a single admin running a number of Google Plus Business Pages from a single business profile. So you could, for instance, sell Running Shoes, in general, and also have a separate page for the most popular style of running shoes. This is particularly useful when a business has a core product and spins-off a number of others or a business has a number of products and it now brings out a brand new one which it needs to focus on and drive its market penetration up.
How are Google Plus Business Pages Different to Google Plus Profiles
To a certain extent Google Plus business pages behave like Google Plus personal profiles. You can (like in Facebook) share photographs, make comments, share links, share videos and conduct Hangouts. This Google sees as part of the way a business would interact with its customers on the web.
The difference, which makes Google Plus business pages so exciting lies in the additional functionality which has been integrated or which will be shortly on offer:
Analytics on a Page
Google is very specific on this:
"Data trumps guessing every time. That’s why in the coming weeks we will be launching tools to give you access to as much data as possible about your Google+ Page and +1 activity: who’s interacting with your page and how; your users’ demographics; and info about their social activities like +1's, shares and comments -- all to help you learn how social campaigns affect your bottom line."
"How do +1's affect user behavior? Google Analytics suite of social reports make it easy to find out. Analytics measures +1's and how engagement on your site changes when personalized recommendations help your content stand out. Also see aggregate, anonymized demographic information about the Google users who have +1’d your site."
"Word travels fast online. Ripples let you see your posts spread across Google+, who’s sharing and resharing your content, and whose opinions matter. Use it to identify influencers and add them to a circle, or see how communities are formed around your content."
"Ready to start building for the Google+ platform? This first release of the Google+ API, which includes read access to public data and a hangouts API, should be helpful, but we’re just getting started. We’ll be keeping a close eye on your feedback and will release more APIs into production as soon as they’re ready."
The API in particular is of great use as it will soon (I hope) enable automatic posting from an application to a Google Plus Business Page much like we have with Twitter or Facebook at the moment.
All of this is detailed on the official Google page for Google Plus Business Pagesand it is certainly worth checking out.
More Differences to Google Plus Business Pages
There are a few more ways in which Google Plus Business Pages behave differently. First from the page itself those who visit it can add you to a Circle (nothing truly unremarkable about that) or choose to +1 the page without adding you. The +1 counter shows how many people have ‘voted’ this page and +1 is a strong cue in Google search.
You can see what the Angry Birds page on Google Plus looks like to give you an idea.
The biggest difference by far is search and website rankings. Google has created a new badge maker page and linking your website to your Google Plus Business Profile is strongly encouraged.
Benefits in Search and Social Media Marketing
First let’s say that this truly is the beginning. Google, allegedly, has plans to integrate Google Apps in Google in which case, as a business, you suddenly gain the ability to run a small outfit with the same flexibility, connectivity and online presence as Pepsi with its marketing budget that runs in the millions.
Second, even if Google stops developing G+ Business Pages right this moment and nothing goes further the seamless integration with search and the +1 button make your business a big winner in both search marketing and social media marketing.
Bottom line is that if there ever was a social media network in which you need to get involved with this is it!
Related Posts Which May Be of Interest
Marketing Through Google Plus Social Media in General
Google Ripples Becomes a Great Toolkit for Marketers
Google Plus Extends Connection to Mobile Platform
Google Plus Updates Real-Time Search and Clickable Hashtags