The big news last week was that Google+ unveiled its Business Pages. Most businesses immediately jumped on the Google+ bandwagon to set up these pages. In fact, it has been strangely quiet on Facebook for the past few days as businesses and brands try to circle, post and secure brand/business names on the new social media network.
Most businesses know that the Google+ social network is Google’s attempt to challenge the semi-monopoly that Facebook has enjoyed in the social media world for the past five years. In addition, with its +1 button, Google will also be affecting SEO, or Search Engine Optimization. Businesses can now use the +1 to advertise their brand, products and services and people who add + in the search box in front of a business name will automatically be taken to the Business Page on G+. For example, entering +Mashable will take you directly to Mashable’s Business Page. This make finding brands on Google+ easier than finding one on Facebook or any other social network. And these days, that’s what people want. Quick and easy.
So what has the feedback been regarding the usability of G+ Business Pages? A bit mixed, to say the least. Some people love them and some, of course, are unable to stop comparing them to Facebook Fan pages. Below is my list of pros and cons regarding the G+ Business Pages:
Pros of Google+ Pages for Small Businesses:
- The audience base is already big. Google+ currently has 40 million user accounts, which can help you go far to connect with fans and customers.
- The simplicity of the + and +1 sign will undoubtedly increase the visibility of businesses and brands within the social media playing field.
- Fans recommending your page with a +1 could improve ranking your business over time. Tying in your website with your Google+ Page could increase visibility in Google searches.
- The circle option is a great way to target a specific niche of people, like a specific VIP promotion, keeping the “noise” down. This along with their clean interface, may make people breath a sigh of relief when coming over from Facebook.
- Google+ Hangouts. A great way to connect, converse and co-work with others.
Cons of Google+ Pages for Small Businesses:
- Google+ Pages will not allow contests or promotions. This may come back to bite Google as many businesses use Facebook Fan Page contests and promotions religiously to interact with their audience and customer base.
- Only one person can create and administer the Google+ Business Page leaving the question of ownership or transference of the page in question if the person leaves the company.
- Currently, there are no analytics associated with Google+ Pages, which makes those in suits very uncomfortable when trying to guess how effective your posts have been.
- Lack of geo-targeting may make it difficult for local businesses to target specific markets.
- Vanity URLs are not available.
- Customers will not be allowed to post on your wall, which makes the two-way interaction that is so popular on Facebook difficult.
- Pages cannot follow people unless they have been followed first.
It is clear that Google has changed the playing field, once again. I think that this is just the start of what Google can do for businesses and I look forward to the watching the evolution of Google+ for businesses and brands. I’ve set up my Google+ Business Page. Have you?