Ever since the soft launch of Google+ in late June 2011 rumours of the release of Google+ business pages have been rampant. Predicted release dates have come and gone, many impatient businesses have gone ahead and created Google+ profiles (designed for individuals) for their businesses; only to have them removed by Google shortly thereafter.
Right now the best way for businesses to get on Google Plus is to create a profile for someone with high standing in the company. Take for example Mashable CEO Pete Cashmore who has been added to 175,000+ circles (at the time of writing this). He’ll be sure to use that influence to grow Mashable’s Google+ Brand Page when it goes live.
So, what do we want to see in Google+ Business Pages? Read the rest to find out!
Google has a major opportunity on their hands, even if Google+ doesn’t reach Facebook-level numbers, Google+ Business Pages are still likely to be featured heavily in search results, which means they will definitely be seen! We’ve put our heads together to give you our top 10 features Google should include in the launch of Google Business Pages.
1) One-to-One Communication Between Brand & Customer
We can already do this with Twitter through @replies and direct messages, but on Facebook there’s no easy way for a page owner to send a message to an individual. This would prove immensely valuable for customer service matters that are better handled in a private, rather than public forum.
2) A Backend Dashboard With Integrated User Analytics
Wouldn’t it be great to see something more advanced than Facebook Insights? We’d love to see integration with the existing Google Analytics Dashboard. Another key feature would be the ability to identify influencers based on their activity and social reach. Having a list of targeted influencers and being able to foster key relationships on a one-to-one level will give social media managers a new way to grow and service their communities.
3) Social Advertising Based on User Analytics
Just like Facebook allows you to advertise and attract fans, so too should Google+ allow page owners to target fans and add them to their brand circle(s). Google+ will have to be careful to not saturate their page with ads in the early phases, as it stands Google+ is free of any sponsored advertising. As people begin using Google+, AdWords integration will inevitably follow, opening yet another new frontier for advertisers.
4) Multiple Fan Circles
Imagine being able to segment your fans into separate groups and drive specific messages to them. You could have one circle for casual fans who’ve become part of your circles and another for hardcore fans who +1 and comment often. This could potentially spur community activity, if for example you wanted to be added to a brand’s elite circle and gain access to special offers, you may start engaging more. This is similar to some recent Klout promotions we’ve seen, but with a clout that’s focused around the “fan” and your brand – not just the fan and all of social media.
5) A Robust API
Whether Google+ Business Pages will coincide with the release of an API (Application Programming Interface) remains to be seen; it would certainly get the development community excited. Being able to add geo-location data and integrate other Google services like YouTube prove very promising for any brand that wants to make their Google+ Business Page stand out.
6) Google Places Integration
This is a big one. Google places is not without its issues, and it’s a natural fit that Google+ Business Pages will have some overlap with Google Places – if not replace them outright. If Google chooses the latter strategy, it will end up populating Google+ Business Pages automatically; there is already some evidence that suggests this. Whichever path Google decides to take hopefully it will give brands more control over what content is a part of their page, rather than just populating everything automatically and giving users little room to control content.
7) On-Site Reviews
This follows with Google Places integration, except it would allow for an area on Google+ Business Pages where reviews can be read and written. We’ve already seen a lot of review integration into Facebook with tabs and recommendations and it’s likely that Google+ will follow suit.
8) Customized Design
Definitely not the full fledged approach of MySpace, but somewhere between a Facebook landing page and a Twitter background. If the new YouTube enhanced channels are to give any indication, we’ll see customizable backgrounds with linkable areas. A drag and drop front-end would also be a great option for brands to customize their layout and do more interesting things with their design. If Google+ could open up design capabilities to those of us who don’t know how to code, the creativity of the business pages will quickly surpass Facebook, where people still need to know code in order to create a landing page.
9) Content Managed Landing Pages
Picking up from where number 8 left off, a landing page you can design and update with a content management system would mean that page owners would be able to make changes to their landing pages on the fly. If it were an inline CMS (with front-end editing) that would be even better!
10) Contest and Coupon Integration
Running contests directly on Facebook requires third-party applications, we’d love to see Google+ create easy ways for brands to run contests and give away coupons. These promotional methods foster engagement and create long lasting bonds between brands and their loyal followers.
So there you have it, these are our top 10 predictions or our wish list, if you will. Bring on Google Plus business pages, we’re ready