Ok, it’s here. And once again businesses are scrambling on what to do.
Hopefully for Thanksgiving 2011 internet pundits took a break after spending the last few weeks assessing Google+ Pages. On November 7th, Google released the platform, a competitor to Facebook Pages and Linked In, after requesting businesses to not create a Google+ page as a business page. Zimana has launched its Google+ Pages – you can see and plus the page here.
Is Google+ Pages it better than Facebook Pages? Not necessarily. Platforms are really a matter of choice.
Further, I feel there are a few shortcomings that show at launch, but are recoverable over time.
One is a lack of an audience base that spends 1 of 8 social media minutes on its platform – this s a Hubspot stat on Facebook engagement according to Hubspot. Currently with 40 million users overall, Google+ stats will be more widely known with study, particularly if Google includes third party apps and developments in a manner similar to its Droid operating system.
The second shortcoming is that the page can only be managed by one administrator vs Facebook’s two or more admin selection capability. This can be a headache if the person managing this page disappears entirely.
But the anticipation for Google+ Pages lies in its significant potential search influence. A Google+ page can be linked to your website through Direct Connect. Direct Connect is based on search user typing a + before the brand name; When this happens, the Google+ Page shows in the SERP alongside other results. Linking your Google+ page and your site gives Google a relevant connection between your site to a user query in Google Web Search.
To establish the link, a business employee or manager must first establish a Google + account. A Google+ page can be then created (You can have more than one page, but again, only one administrator at this writing).
Next, a link to the company website is needed to make Direct Connect viable. This requires inserting a “rel=publisher” code in the main website page. The instruction can be found at this Google Webmaster page.
A second consideration – none of the Google+ Pages have a customizable URL. This is a missing advantage on business cards and on websites – who wants to share a URL with a series of numbers. Facebook offers a customized pagename features for pages with at least 25 followers.
But there is a work around. A few Google+ enthusiast are sharing a website, gplus.to , on which users can creates an unique URL to use on the aforementioned business cards, webpages, and other marketing tools.
This is still not as comparable as renaming the page itself – think of a rename as a SEO opportunity to include a keyword- but gplus.to does becomes handy for removing the long numerical URL when a short handle is more memorable.
Finally, Google+ Pages does not have a direct connection to Google Analytics. Currently you can add a Google +1 button to your site to see how your site is shared through the Google+ platform. Google Webmaster can also provide some data, but its reports activity significantly different from GA. Although Webmaster reports on all +1 activity, a GA account only reviews what is tagged to the website.
Most importantly, Google+ Pages serves a reminder of the importance of images and content labels. Like Facebook, Google+ users can be tagged – This alerts the tagged persons when sharing occurs and can spread the awareness of your business.
In a recent social media white paper, Hubspot noted that much of pre-shopping research starts with search and that social media also increases the likelihood of a purchase. Reports from Forrester and eMarketer also agree that customers research, be it B2B or B2C, rely on a search and social media presence for a purchase decision. With Google+, Google has made the combination of a social network and a search engine more convenient for researching offerings. It’s this research that will ultimately make your business a success.