Should you start a Google+ page for your business?

All my clients are asking and it’s a tough question for many. For most small businesses I’m saying no, wait a bit. Why? There are so many things business page can’t do yet. For example:

  • A page can’t follow you until you follow it first or mention it in a post.
  • A page doesn’t get notifications by email, text or in the Google+ bar, so it’s hard to keep on top of your discussions
  • Hangouts don’t work on a mobile device for pages
  • You can’t manage your page from a mobile device
  • The only way to know if your page has new comments is to browse the feed for the page
  • Unless you’re a big brand with Google Direct Connect you don’t own the page name
  • Pages can’t +1 other pages or web sites
  • Pages can’t comment or even +1 a conversation unless that person is following the page
  • The creator of the page is the only administrator. If that person leaves the company they still “own” the page
  • There is no facility to add admins to a page (like Facebook) so you either create an account just for this purpose or share your user name and password with other admins.
  • If someone unfollows your page then your page automatically unfollows them
  • Pages have to be administered from the page directly. Currently few social media management tools offer Google+ support, though Hootsuite will be soon. Apply here.

If you can’t grow your network on Google+ easily what’s the point? I understand Google is trying to protect people from getting spammed by millions of businesses, but in effect they’re making business pages quite useless and painful to use.

So why do all the big brands have Google+ pages then?

Because it’s easier for them. They actually get to reserve the name of their company on Google+using Google+ Direct Connect. Go to the Google search engine and type in Toyota+ to see what I mean. Good. Great. But what about a smaller brand? You’re outta luck for the moment. Google says they’ll be verifying more pages in future and I’m sure they will, but until then you’re just another page with the same name as anybody else who uses that name. Heck, there are several pages already called “Social Media Coach”! Maybe I was the first but I won’t be the last and it’s up for grabs for the first person who can get it verified.

There is a process called page verification. Here’s that works, but notice that you can’t apply for verification, they’ll let you know when you’ve been verified. Warning. If you change a character in the name of your page it will un-verify it and you’ll have to do it again. It also doesn’t seem to accelerate your entry into the Direct Connect pages so although it’s nice to be verified, it’s just the first step towards really being able to find your page.

What are the big brands doing with their Google+ pages?

That’s the really sad part. They participated in the land rush to get their Google+ pages defined and then many of them went right back to traditional marketing methods. Look at H&M for example. It’s a long stream of ads pushed out to anyone who follows them.

Just when the business pages feature launched people collected the big brands into a circle and started sharing it around. I dutifully added the circle to my feed and now the feed is clogged up with an incredible amount of direct advertisements. Is this really what we want Google+ to be for business? Here’s a short list of just a few. Some are great, some are just ads, you make the call whether they’re doing a good job or not.

How about you? Are there brands doing a good job on Google+? Add them in the comments and give us some hope. Have you created a Google+ page for your business that is working for you? Share some best practices here. We’d love to hear about it.

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  • Couldn’t agree more Janet – as it stands, there’s nothing significant that you *can* do on G+ that can’t be done on Facebook or Twitter, and the audience is a fraction of the size and almost entirely composed of other marketers 🙂  In time, I think Google might effectively coerce businesses onto G+ by leveraging its search dominance (integration with social search etc), but it’s definitely not the fantastic functionality that’ll be getting them there, and that’s what brings the consumer audience.
    Have you noticed though, the vast majority of online marketers are right on the bandwagon with the G+ hype, lord knows why!

  • All true Kate. I think marketers are afraid to be “the one who missed the boat” and they’re jumping on pages too early just in case!

  • I’ve been running pages for all the websites I own for a few months and, yep, Google Plus is pointless. In three or four months, I think I’ve had maybe 8 people across all my pages ‘Friend’ me, and only had five or six hits to my websites. A total and complete waste of time. Oh, and it doesn’t even help with getting your websites higher up in Google search either. I say avoid them 🙂

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