Google+ Pages: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

Four months after the initial launch of Google+, business pages are finally available to brands worldwide.  Businesses have been looking forward to this new platform as a way to connect and share information with fans and customers.  While this may sound similar to Facebook Pages, brands are hoping to capture customers because of the platform’s cleaner and more user-friendly interface.  Corporate accounts on social networks have become an essential staple in brands’ marketing campaigns, and now Google+ is yet another one to add to the mix.

Why Join Google+ Pages?
Google has added numerous incentives for creating a Google+ Page.  One is that Google+ Pages will be incorporated into Google search queries, making your brand or business more SEO-friendly.  This will help drive more people to your Google+ page, as well as encourage them to form meaningful connections and even add your brand to their circles.  While Google indexes some but not all Facebook content, public content on Google+ is already showing up in searches.  Another unique feature is called Direct Connect, which lets people seek out a brand easily by adding a “+” before the search.  For example, a Google search for “+Anderson Cooper 360” lands you directly onto the television show’s Google+ page, entirely skipping a results page!

Google+ Pages vs. Facebook Pages
At first glance, the most obvious difference between the two platforms is that Google+ Pages appear to be much less cluttered, more user-friendly, and not constantly recommending you click ads or add new people to your circles (yet).  Another feature that cleans up Google+ Pages is that while on Facebook Pages, users can post content themselves to the brand’s wall, on Google+ Pages, only the brand can post to the wall.  Users can only comment on the posts, as well as Share or give a +1, which has the possibility of keeping Google+ Pages looking crisp, or the flipside of limiting engagement with the brand and pushing people to Facebook Pages.  Facebook Pages come out on top in terms of being able to incorporate outside applications and services, but with the increasingly high demand of these enhancements, most likely it will not be long before Google+ Pages add similar features.  The Google+ Circles ensure that your posts are shared with all your connections, instead of Facebook’s Edgerank which arbitrarily decides if and where your content is displayed on fans’ feeds.  Analytics are not currently available on Google+ Pages but they are expected to be very powerful, given what Google can already do in this area.  The analytics will most likely be integrated with other analytics views, such as Google Analytics, that will give businesses a more immersed and practical understanding of the role social networks play in producing real ROI.

Google+ Pages Letdowns
While some brands were eagerly anticipating Google+ Pages, many are now wondering why Google waited so long to release this feature, as Pages are not much different from personal Google+ profiles.  There is also a problem when it comes to managing your brand’s page because currently Google+ Pages allow for only one administrator, which means in order for multiple people to update the brand’s wall, they would all have to use the same Google account.  According to the Google+ Pages Content Policy, brands are prohibited from running contests and promotions on their pages, which places more limitations on e-marketers.  Google+ also as of yet does not have the ability to offer vanity URLs.

Both Facebook and Google are sure to continually make updates to the platforms, some for the better and some for the worse.  And with the difference in the number of users on each social network, it will be interesting to see what happens from here.  When all is said and done, Google+ is still a compelling and efficient way to share content.  And one thing is for sure, despite some downsides to Google+ Pages, it is a product of Google, and therefore can reward you handsomely when it comes to SEO.  What business doesn’t want that?

 

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