Five months after the official launch of Google+, businesses are finally allowed to create their own pages on the social networking tool. In less than two days, the scramble to get a business page up and running has seen a vast number of companies popping up on the site. However, it is wise to plan a Google+ strategy for your business before diving in head first at the deep end.
A word of caution to begin with. While Facebook pages are the obvious benchmark for comparison, the differences are plentiful so don’t be expecting to conquer the G+ page with the same approach as a Facebook page. The first thing businesses will find a bit worrying is while Facebook can protect a company name and custom url, Google+ is lacking that capability at the moment. Indeed, a quick search for a company (I’ve used Mashable for this example) can show that anyone can create a Google+ page with your company’s name.
As we see above, there are a number of copycat pages for Mashable created already without restrictions in place to protect the business. Another thing to note is the last result on the left-hand-side. Companies who created “personal” pages for their business when Google+ was first launched (I’ll put my hand up and admit to doing this myself) will find their original page will still be in circulation. Since Google deleted the page, it is not possible to remove it from circulation so your follows may well find themselves clicking on a dead link for your company
Another thing to watch out for, particularly for news/media/marketing people who may have a large number of people needing to represent the company on social media platforms, is the lack of “multi-admin” capability for pages. For groups on LinkedIn and pages on Facebook, the creator/owner of them has the ability to assign numerous admins to the group, who are then able to post on behalf of the business. Google+ at present does not have this capability, so only the person who created the page has access to add posts/photos/people to circles and change the business’ profile. Not a huge problem initially, but if that person were to go on holiday or unfortunately leave the company then there would be no one able to access the profile.
So what advice can be offered to businesses looking to start up on Google Plus?
1. Assign a “voice” of the company who will create and administrate the page. This person will need to be dedicated to the task at hand as merely having a Google+ page is not good enough, it will need to be updated regularly.
2. Plan a strategy for content. Treat your Google+ page as an extension of your business’ website because essentially that’s what it is. You will need to plan the content and updates that will be involved in maintaining your page.
3. Stick to your guns when deciding on a page. If copycat pages can be created it is up to you to ensure yours is the best one on Google+.
4. Don’t be afraid of interaction. If Twitter has taught us one thing, it is that no one likes companies who don’t interact with their audience. Fortunately for Google+, it is not possible to hide behind the safety of an RSS feed so you will need to be active on the site.
5. Create “circles”. Google+ has a number of pre-defined circles which may not quite capture the people you interact with. Create meaningful circles for your followers, team, and business partners and keep them updated regularly.
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