We are over a month into the newest social game changer, Google +, and it’s already off to a steady increasing start. The Google backed social network which has close to 20 million users sharing over one billion items per-day still has yet include or even allow profiles for businesses. Although Google has promised business profiles are coming to Google Plus in the near future, pages managed for businesses on the other dominant social sites like Facebook and Twitter are very beneficial in creating awareness, customer loyalty, and driving traffic, are being shut-out. Google has also made it very clear that it will not allow business pages before their official say so and have even begun deleting accounts of businesses set up as traditional users. It is clear that Google wants to maintain the integrity of their new network by not allowing these backdoor business profiles but it begs the question, what do they have in store for Google Plus Business Pages?
Social networking profiles for businesses have proven to be very successful in many areas; enhancing loyalty, maintaining customer relationships, driving traffic and facilitating engagement with customers. Ecommerce businesses benefit from maintaining an active social media presence as they are effective mechanisms to monitor the business’s perception, maintain customers and target new traffic and conversions.
How will Google Plus tackle their business pages? The relatively long (in social media terms) delay before rolling out business pages makes the case that the business pages are going to be pretty complex, impactful and perhaps mind-blowing. It’s expected that Google Plus will harbor some of the features seen on other social media business pages like linking ability, application integration, photos/videos and even ecommerce capabilities which allow users to make purchases within the business’s profile page. As far as I’ve seen, Google Plus is charting a course that includes the best of Facebook, Twitter, and existing Google services.
An exciting topic is how the social content from Google Plus, and more detailed content from the business pages, will affect search engine rankings. Google currently monitors Facebook and Twitter content (shares, likes, comments, etc.) so it is expected that Google Plus content will also influence the search results. The larger question here is if the Google Plus social content will make a greater impact on SEO being a Google owned property. If pumping out content and social activity from a business page will positively improve search rank it could cause companies to rethink their SEO strategy.
We have gotten a taste of what Google Plus business pages may look like through test accounts of mainstream companies like Ford Motor Company.
The test accounts however are set up like a typical profile, and still aren’t considered a real business profile. Being backed by the Google platform offers possibilities for Google Plus to set their business pages above Facebook and Twitter. The ‘Hangout’ feature would be a perfect facilitator for setting up webinars or how-to-sessions eliminating the need for messy third-party web conferencing tools. Taking a page from Twitter’s Promoted Tweets, there is the opportunity for businesses to attract new customers by publishing their paid updates in the streams of targeted Google Plus users. Another feature Google Plus has is mastering application integration and allowing businesses to add services to the page such as a customer service chat, custom use of multimedia and product catalogs with checkout capabilities.
Only time will tell which features Google Plus will roll out in their Business Pages. Based off the current effectiveness of social pages for businesses I’m convinced that once introduced, the surge of active business profiles will be faster than you can say Goog —.