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|Tuesday, November 8, 2011|
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Google Opens Pages For Business - Initial Impressions
After a long period of rising expectations, Google rolled out Google+ Pages yesterday, which allows brands, companies and businesses to create a presence on the service – directly in competition with Facebook pages.
New features and development of old ones
The circle system as with the personal profiles is used as a foundation for the business profiles. This means your business can easily select target groups, place them in different circles and tailor communication for them within Google+, which makes it easy to deliver custom content to the right audiences. The one nuance: the brand cannot add a user to a circle until the user has already added the page to one of their circles first.
Interesting collaboration features show promise for both internal and external communications. The videochat capability, called Google Hangout, was launched earlier for personal profiles. For the business profiles this has been developed to enable sharing of screenshots and real-time collaboration on documents using Google Docs. It is interesting to see that Google has developed some good ideas from Google Wave, like the collaboration around documents or projects, and is using this combined with the simplicity in sharing of Google Buzz.
Integration with existing services will be one key strength of Google+ Pages. For example, it’s possible to use Google Analytics together with your page to track visits, views and traffic. Another handy feature is the new service Ripples, which makes it possible to watch how links you share spread around on different platforms, adding a new dimension to the analytics. There are also some useful management features, like the ability to seamlessly create multiple users on one account and allocate specific sharing rights and controls from a central control point.
So what does it mean?
There are definitely some interesting opportunities for businesses using Google+ Pages in that it can be used in a number of ways by companies. Internally, companies can use it to collaborate on projects and documents; externally, brands can use it as a marketing and relationship building tool, or as a support tool, with the great real-time video features in Google Hangout and screenshot sharing abilities. So there is not just one best way to use it – there are several, and companies must figure out what way best serves their strategy.
Looking at the heavy focus on real-time collaboration and integration with Google Docs, I would say that B2B companies are the ones that gain the most immediate benefits from this. Facebook will not be as threatened by Google+ Pages as LinkedIn, for instance. When it comes to real-time collaboration, using multimedia and integration with applications, Google+ is miles ahead of LinkedIn. LinkedIn still holds a couple of differentiators, though – their network is a bit more streamlined as it doesn’t usually include the social media crowd that signs up for any new service, and LinkedIn users often possess a very high competence level within their areas of expertise (which is sometimes reflected in the LinkedIn groups). LinkedIn has been around since 2003 and their users have been very faithful. However, to survive in the long run LinkedIn must develop the collaboration features to tackle the Google+ threat and should encourage users to leverage the platform as more than a CV database, as sometimes is the case.
Next steps for PR and Comms
For PR and communications managers, the next step is to decide if and where Google+ Pages fits into the current communications strategy. Considering Google’s previous lack of stamina when it comes to sticking with new social platforms (Wave, Buzz etc), some people are likely to wait a while before jumping on this new service. It does show great promise though, and Google seems to leverage their previous experiences from Wave and Buzz in a useful way, which should guide them in the right direction.
As a PR agency with a focus on digital we will of course be looking at how the platform can be used in the best possible way for companies. We will certainly get back to talking about Google+ Pages on the Hypertext blog when the service has come further along.
Please also check out my colleagues’ previous posts about Google+: What does Google+ mean for Communications People by Lars Basche and Google+ API means third party aps are on the way by Lance Concannon. – By Anders Lundin, Account Manager, Stockholm
Don't miss these great posts on Hypertext! Have an idea for a topic? Post a comment on the blog, tweet us @text100, comment on our Facebook page, or send an email to Text 100's Global Community Manager, Amber Rinehard.
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