In the five months since its initial exclusive launch, it hasn’t been all smooth sailing for Google+. The new social network has struggled to really get off the ground, with the number of its registered users rising steadily but unspectacularly since it was first introduced.
There is one big lifeline for Google+ though, which is that it has just announced business pages, a long-awaited development that will enable businesses to create a new customer hub that could prove extremely rewarding in terms of social engagement and SEO.
So what is a Google+ brand page, and is a significant enough addition to offer a real challenge to Facebook’s domination?
A Brand page is a google+ profile designed specifically for businesses, akin to Facebook’s fan pages. Before their introduction, firms could only get a standard Google+ profile, so there was nothing to differentiate them from regular users. Google have announced a number of unique features for brand pages, including customisable visuals and multiple admins.
There are a lot of businesses currently mulling over whether to set up a Google brand page – some commentators say ‘Google+ is Doomed’, while others insist Google+ is simply too good a marketing tool to ignore. My advice is to just go for it.
Benefits of Google+ Brand Pages
Lots of businesses already have Google’s +1 button on their website, and you will now able to tie these into the +1s on your Google+ page. Perhaps the main advantage is that messages posted on Google+ pages will be picked up in Google’s search results, which from a marketer’s perspective gives them a big advantage over Facebook posts and Twitter posts, which Google is unable to see. In the not too distant future, expect to see a firm’s website and its Google+ page as the virtually guaranteed top two results when you do a search for their name on Google.
Google is currently working on lots of fresh creative ways to link Google+ with search results, with the stated aim of making joining a brand page’s circle as easy and natural as doing a search. So for example putting “+Honda” in Google’s search box will in future be a way for you to subscribe automatically to Honda’s brand page.
Though not currently active, it has been revealed that brand pages will soon become location-aware, which is ideal for small businesses which only operate in one part of the country. The video hangouts feature (also a feature of standard profiles) is a particularly interesting one for businesses. Dell have already floated the idea of using Google+ hangouts for customer service, allowing for face to face communication between consumers and businesses in an easily managed and simple way.
Google aren’t actually pitching brand pages as an alternative to Facebook, but as a new channel to supplement your existing social media marketing strategy. It goes without saying that with different customers using different networks, it makes sense to spread your message as wide as possible, and this, added to the potential for serious SEO benefits down the line, should be more than enough to persuade you to sign your business up to Google+ at the nearest opportunity.
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