The first wave of feedback from Google+ users has been effusive. It has those without invites anxious for access. It also has marketers asking a very natural question. “When can I set up a page for my business?”

Ford’s Google+ Pole Position
The Ford Motor Company currently has a Google+ profile. They may be the only brand with a page. This is a distinction they’ll have for awhile as Google requests patience from the business community before trying to create their own pages. Via Christian Oestlien, the Google+ paid media project lead.

“We have been watching Google+ take shape over the last week and we’ve seen some really great companies get involved. But frankly we know our product as it stands is not optimally suited to their needs. In fact, it was kind of an awkward moment for us when we asked Ford for his (or was it her?) gender!

“How users communicate with each other is different from how they communicate with brands, and we want to create an optimal experience for both. We have a great team of engineers actively building an amazing Google+ experience for businesses, and we will have something to show the world later this year.

“The business experience we are creating should far exceed the consumer profile in terms of its usefulness to businesses. We just ask for your patience while we build it. In the meantime, we are discouraging businesses from using regular profiles to connect with Google+ users. Our policy team will actively work with profile owners to shut down non-user profiles. 

“Over the next few months we are going to be running a small experiment with a few marketing partners to see the effect of including brands in the Google+ experience. We’ll begin this pilot with a small number of named partners. If you represent a “non-user entity” (e.g. business, organization, place, team, etc.) and would like to apply for consideration in our limited program (and be amongst the first to be alerted when the business product launches) you can sign up here: ”

Google is serious about this. In fact tech blog The Next Web had its Google+ page taken down.

Google+ & Your Brand
So what should your business do about Google+? Empower MediaMarketing suggests a pragmatic approach.

* Watch & Wait:Taylor Wiegert, an Empower Word of Mouth Strategist and Social Media Specialist, sums it up on his personal blog. ”It’s way too early to tell, but I’d hold off for the moment. Google+ will grow and the initial crowd will mostly be tech geeks. Hold on to your wallets for the moment, and see where it goes. In addition, Google will be adding options and opportunities for businesses to create valuable experiences that are optimized for businesses. For now, keep watch as Google+ grows and develops.”

* Consider Strategy: It’s understandable for marketers to want the latest and greatest tool to help businesses engage with customers. But before anyone creates a business page, hopefully they ask ”why?” before doing so.  Why is the page needed? Does it fit into the business strategy? Does it duplicate engagement strategies underway on other social networking sites like Facebook? How does a Google+ business page help that company reach its goals? How will success be measured? All of the questions asked when creating a strategic approach to social marketing should be dusted off and applied once more.

* Participate: We firmly believe in participating in new technology to experience it and create an informed opinion. Several Empower team members have started creating profiles and checking out the Google+ experience as a result. As we watch and wait, it makes it much easier to make an informed decision when Google+ opens its doors to business pages.

Ford’s unique situation may be envied by some. But consider the audience Ford is trying to reach. The automotive industry has an extensive and highly engaged online community. It’s worth arguing that the field testers currently pushing and pulling the Google+ site have some considerable overlap with Ford’s audience.

In many ways, Google asking businesses to wait for an officially-sanctioned process is a big benefit to businesses. It allows marketers to watch, wait, participate and consider if a businesses page even makes sense in the first place. How often are we afforded that luxury?

By Kevin Dugan, Director of Marketing with Taylor Wiegert, Word of Mouth Marketing Strategist, Media Marketing Specialist

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