Google+ Pages, like Facebook Pages before them, let businesses and brands promote conversations related to products and services.
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Just over a hundred days after Google last provided an update on the status of Google+ for businesses, the company has introduced a way for companies to participate in its social network.
Google+ Pages, like Facebook Pages before them, provide businesses and brands with a place to promote conversations related to their products and services.
"For you and me, this means we can now hang out live with the local bike shop, or discuss our wardrobe with a favorite clothing line, or follow a band on tour," explained Vic Gundotra, SVP of social, in a blog post. "Google+ Pages give life to everything we find in the real world. And by adding them to circles, we can create lasting bonds with the pages (and people) that matter most."
Google is current rolling out Pages worldwide on Google+. If the service is not immediately available, it should be shortly.
When Google first launched Google+ over the summer, many businesses created personal Profiles to experiment with a service that many expected might eventually become a viable competitor to Facebook. Google tried to discourage this by shutting down business-oriented personal accounts. The company promised to adapt its social network to corporate participation.
With the launch of Pages, Christian Oestlein, a Google product manager, said in a Google+ post that he hopes the service will "[transform] the way we think about marketing."
Google Pages are designed to accommodate five basic types of entity: Local Business or Place; Product or Brand; Corporation, Institution, or Organization; Arts, Entertainment, or Sports; and Other.
Though similar to personal Google+ Profiles in many respects, Pages differ in several important ways. They're designed to provide Page owners with data about visitor demographics, posts that have been shared, use of Google's +1 button when associated with the Page, and related analytics information.
Specifically, they differ as follows: Pages cannot add a person to a circle unless that person has already added the Page or mentioned it. Unlike Profiles, Pages do not have to represent a unique individual. The default privacy setting for Pages is public. Pages can have their own +1 button but they cannot endorse other pages or websites with a +1 vote. Pages cannot play Google+ Games. Pages lack the option to share to an extended circle. Pages don't receive notifications and cannot participate in a mobile device Hangout. And Local Pages have extra location data associated with them.
Google is providing businesses with tools to help promote their presence on Google+. These include: a Google+ badge; the +1 button and Social Extensions to connect +1 buttons on websites back to a Google+ Page; and Direct Connect, through which users can employ the "+" character as a search operator to restrict queries to Google+ content.
Google hasn't quite matched Facebook in terms of administrative options--Google+ Pages don't yet support multiple administrators, for example--but better management tools can be expected in time.
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