Google bows Google+ Pages
Google has finally begun to roll out Google+ profiles for brands, but they may not have been worth the wait. I wasn't able to create a makeshift Google+ Page because “we haven't finished releasing them to everyone,” but here's what I've been able to gather.
Yes, they're being called Google+ Pages. Yes, it's just like how brands' Facebook profiles are termed Facebook Pages. No, I have no idea why Google didn't opt for a name not ripped from their biggest social competitor.
It looks like brands will be able to specify whether they belong to one of five categories: local business or place; product or brand; company, institution or organization; arts, entertainment or sports; or other.
Brands will have access to the same, or at least similar, features available to non-business Google+ users — namely Hangouts, Circles and the +1 button — but it's hard to figure how these features have been business-optimized.
Whether or not Google is saying Hangouts is the most business-friendly feature, the company lists it first in a blog post announcing the rollout as well as on the "Create a Page" page. I couldn't decipher whether brands will have a limit on how many consumers they can have a Hangout with, but I imagine brands hope there is a Google-imposed limit if only to ensure Hangouts are manageable and to take heat off brands for turning away consumers.
Brands can also segment consumers in Circles, much as I segment friends from family from coworkers. Problem is, how does Google expect a company to segment its thousands or millions of fans (I'm assuming Google will also grab that nomenclature from Facebook)? From what I can tell, Google doesn't have a mechanism in place for consumers to self-segment. Such a mechanism would seal one area in which Google+ could beat Facebook when it comes to social marketing, if only it existed.
While the +1 button is a close kin of the “like” button, Google is taking an interesting tack in displaying +1s. Unlike how Facebook tallies “likes” according to what is being liked (story, ad, video, etc.), Google will be aggregating all +1s, so that no matter how many times a brand's ad or a piece of content on its site are individually +1-ed, the +1 counter for each will only display the number of +1s the brand has received in total. The cynic in me says this is Google's way of masking a meager number of +1s a brand may initially receive as Google+ establishes itself as a social network on par with Facebook. The other part of me says that's an interesting theory.
But why would a brand want a Google+ Page if they already have a Facebook Page? Umm … that's for part two?