When Google Plus initially launched, both personal and business users flocked to the site. But before long those business users were told that their accounts weren’t welcome on the social network yet and that they would be deleted. Instead Google wanted to roll out a separate feature or profile type for businesses and brands — Pages.
After what felt like a painfully long wait, Google Plus Pages were finally recently unveiled. But were they worth the wait? Let’s look at both sides.
On the surface, of course they were worth the wait. And any business that really wanted to reach Google Plus users would have waited even longer and still found a way to make the site work for them. Despite some of the controversy around Google Plus, Pages were still an anticipated tool.
This gives businesses access to basic Google Plus tools that they were waiting for — from Circles to Hangouts. Another great feature is the addition of Direct Connect. It’s a way for your fans or customers to find your social updates without having to sort through regular search results or go through your company website first. Instead they can just type “+YourBrandName” as a Google search, and they’re taken directly to your Google Plus Page — very easy to integrate into existing marketing and ad campaigns.
On the other hand, Google Plus Pages seem somewhat light on features. With the delay I think I expected much much more from them. For example, one of the biggest problems at launch time was the fact that a Page still had to be tied to a personal Google Plus account. You couldn’t assign administrative rights to other users (like an employee or a consultant helping you manage your social media profiles). If the administrator of the account is fired, quits or dies, is the account in limbo?
Other big drawbacks were a lack of analytics (something Google’s already mastered, so integration at launch time would have made a lot of sense) and the fact that Google doesn’t want businesses using the site for contests and promotions. In other words, some pretty basic elements of social media marketing don’t mesh with Google Plus Pages.
So was it worth the wait for Google Plus Pages for businesses? Maybe so if your goals fit within the scope of what the site now offers and allows. So far it feels more to me like an afterthought. I’m left scratching my head wondering exactly what they were doing between the initial launch and the release of Pages (which still seem far too much like users’ personal accounts).
What are your thoughts? How do you plan to use it for your business, and what changes would you like to see? What do you think should have been ready at launch that wasn’t? Leave a comment below and tell us about it.
I’ve grabbed pages for my writing business, a couple of blogs and one of my products, Jenn, because I believe they will get better. I’m still not totally clear on how, in their current format, they improve on the regular Google+ options. Still, I expect that analytics etc will be integrated and surely if businesses are to use Google+ they will have to be allowed to promote at some point.
I think Google is just clueless about how people actually use social media (and now businesses as well). The internal comments about the site being an afterthought or knee-jerk reaction to Facebook seem more evident by the day. They had the potential for something great. They blew it on the personal front with the nymwar BS and the fact that execs were talking out of both sides of the company’s ass on the issue for too long. And they blew it with businesses by first saying they weren’t welcome there and then taking far to long to release a business option that is far too light on features. As for no promotions allowed, I’ll love watching them try to enforce that. In the end, no social network has ever really set the rules of play. Ultimately the users do, and if they do something the network doesn’t like it’s “adopt or die” time. When the masses do what they “shouldn’t” Google won’t be able to keep up any better than any site before them. And if they don’t let people use the site how they want to, it will fail just like their other attempts in the social media world. I still think G+ has more potential than most sites for a general network that can be custom-tailored to just about anyone’s needs. But that’s never going to happen if Google execs don’t get some fresh blood in there and loosen the reigns a bit. It would be one thing if this was their first try with social media. But they should have learned much more by now.
Jenn, to your comment about Google being clueless on how we use social media – I’m glad you said it. I’ve been wondering for a while about Google+ and why it seems more cluttered and cumbersome than Twitter. I like it to some extent, but it doesn’t feel functional. Maybe not as functional as I’d hoped.
They just haven’t built in the level of user control that really needs to be there. You should control everything people can or cannot see (including profile info). You should control how much of each post shows up on your stream. Right now it still feels like I’m stuck reading one gigantic blog, which means I’ll read the first few posts and move on. If people really wanted me to see their updates, they’d be better off actually blogging. Let us minimize these to one-line intros so we can see more on a page and decide what we really want to read. That would combine the best of both microblogging and blogging. And we should be able to control how we use the service with fairly minor limitations (like a lack of spamming). If people follow a company, for example, they’re probably not going to complain about a promotion. Heck, if they didn’t, I’d wonder why I was wasting my time. You have to let businesses offer benefits to their followers. And for some companies that sole benefit is going to be of a promotional nature. At this point I only check in if I get an email notification that I feel I need to respond to. But mostly I’ve stepped away from G+ on principle and won’t be an active user again until they stop the nymwar BS. Any company that tells stalking and abuse victims they should be further victimized by being isolated from their social networks due to an idiotic “real name” policy isn’t worth my time. I might feel tempted if they had their act together on a larger scale there, but they don’t. G+ has a few interesting features. But Pages just weren’t ready for prime time.
The Blumenthals had a recent Google Hangout on Air (HOA) discussing whether small businesses should use Brand pages or Local Plus pages that concluded that Brand pages are best for big brands while small businesses would be better off using Local Plus pages. Those of us who have online only presences would probably use Brand pages while businesses that have a physical location would focus on their local page.