Google begins removing brands from Google+

25 Jul 2011

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Early mover brands that went about creating Google+ profiles in the same way as they would via Facebook or Twitter have begun seeing their pages disappear or lack functionality. Brands affected by the move include Ford, Mashable and Sesame Street.

More than a fortnight since Google+ debuted and there was a bit of a game of Russian roulette under way as brands saw the sharing potential and brand-building opportunity of Google+ but were paralysed by the question of should we or shouldn’t we create a Google+ profile.

The official line was that real people with real names could create a Google+ account but that Google wasn’t ready to deal with brands yet.

However, some brands went ahead and created Google+ profiles. Within 24 hours of Google+ going live, social news site Mashable had a presence on the new social network, for example.

With brands already present on Google+, it sent a signal out to any online brand with a pulse to get their profile up there, including us here at Siliconrepublic.com.

More than a week ago, Google announced that business pages would be coming to Google+ soon and asked brands to refrain from setting up new accounts.

Brands were then asked to apply to be part of a test programme that stopped receiving applications last Friday. According to Google’s Christien Oestlien, it was inundated with with applications from charities, businesses and other organisations.

Some brands have already begun to work around the problem. Mashable had quickly amassed a follower base exceeding 108,000. According to reports, the social news site’s founder Peter Cashmore is going to start posting from the former Mashable account to keep the user base served.

The whole episode, however, should be a lesson to Google about the social space. The operative word here is ‘communication’. It should have made it clear from day one that Google+ was about people first, not brands, and that plans were afoot if businesses could just hold back a little while.

Google has been massively successful with Google+, amassing more than 20m users in less than 16 days; which should make Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter nervous.

Brands will go where the people go. But brands in themselves are the enduring story of belief and passion in a product. No doubt, when Google has business profiles up and running it will be extraordinarily successful.

But between now and then, Google will need to ‘communicate’ what’s happening in a transparent process that rules out any notion of a pecking order.

According to Oestlien, a few brands have been allowed to remain, including Ford, which now has a ‘test account’ logo emblazoned on its page.

Oestlien said: “With so many qualified candidates expressing intense interest in business profiles, we’ve been thinking hard about how to handle this process. Your enthusiasm obligates us to do more to get businesses involved in Google+ in the right way, and we have to do it faster. As a result, we have refocused a few priorities and we expect to have an initial version of businesses’ profiles up and running for EVERYONE in the next few months. There may be a tiny handful of business profiles that will remain in the meantime solely for the purpose of testing how businesses interact with consumers.

“In the meantime, we ask you not to create a business profile using regular profiles on Google+. The platform at the moment is not built for the business use case, and we want to help you build long-term relationships with your customers. Doing it right is worth the wait. We will continue to disable business profiles using regular profiles.

“We recommend you find a real person who is willing to represent your organisation on Google+ using a real profile as him-or-herself,” Oestlien said.

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Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com