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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Google+ Opens Up to Businesses

Businesses Can Now Build a Presence on Google+

Google+ is inviting businesses to build a presence on its site, in another step to become a full-featured social media site and gain on rival Facebook.

Google+ Pages provides a place where businesses, both local and global, can establish a profile, chat with customers via the Hangouts videoconferencing service and solicit customer feedback. More than 20 brands and organizations have signed up for Google+ Pages since its Monday launch, including Macy's, Pepsi, Toyota, H&M, Burberry and the Dallas Cowboys.
The Mountain View, Calif.-based company's social network launched in June and has around 40 million users, but this move marks the first time it has actively courted businesses. Corporate accounts have reportedly been eager to establish a presence on the fledgling social media site, with "thousands and thousands" applying to be among the first to get a page.
Corporate accounts may prove key in helping Google+ compete against established social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Businesses increasingly use social media as a way to connect with customers and boost loyalty through online deals, freebies, contests and other offerings.
Both local businesses such as farms and huge corporations like Gap have embraced social media as a way to drive interest in their brands.
Google+ Pages is also integrated into Google's online search results through a feature called DirectConnect. By adding a "+" before their search query, users can quickly reach a businesses' page on the Google+ site. This integration with the world's most popular search engine may make Google+ Pages even more attractive to businesses looking for ways to increase brand visibility.
The launch of Google+ Pages is also in line with the company's overall features push. Google+ has added more than 100 features since its launch, including onsite photo editing tools and popular games like CityVille.
The Web giant has said it plans to roll out Google+ features at the rate of one per week for the rest of this year in an effort to enhance its offerings, attract users and compete against social media giant, Facebook.
"So far Google+ has focused on connecting people with other people," said Vic Gundotra, Google's senior vice president of engineering. "But we want to make sure you can build relationships with all the things you care about -- from local businesses to global brands -- so today we're rolling out Google+ Pages nationwide."
Google+ has a long way to go in its race to catch up with Facebook, but its inclusion of popular businesses and unique search integration may soon have more businesses, and their customers, flocking to the site.


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