This won't be yet another post encouraging you to go set up your Google Plus Page for business immediately, nor will it give you instructions on how to do so. Admittedly, that is what I was hoping to suggest at the release of Google+, and despite my preparation for a webinar to that end, I must realistically offer an alternative … for now.
Why not just dive in? Well, while we should allow for the fact that Google+ Pages are still brand new, they have come up short in many key areas. Here are just a few:
- It doesn't appear that there are any protections in place to prevent someone from creating a page with your business name.
- Only one admin per page is allowed, and there isn't a transfer system currently in place. In other words, if I leave Cirrus ABS, I can't release my control over Cirrus ABS’s branded page (though Google says it’s working on this problem).
- It is against the TOS to create fake accounts, so, technically speaking, a real person should set up a Google+ account. This presents a problem when the company’s CEO, legal representative, or owner isn't always the one managing the social channels. (see previous point)
- Google+ Pages are showing in search engine results (SERPs) but not ranking well for non-branded searches (yet).
- The notification system is simply laughable. There isn't a visible notification that someone has engaged with your page unless you open the brand page. Google+ doesn’t even send email notifications. The Google bar red box still only shows the admin’s personal notifications.
- Circling a brand with both the brand page you manage and your personal Google+ account requires way too much thought.
- Similarly, circling the brand you admin requires digital contortion. And of course you cannot circle your personal Google+ account from your brand page until you figure out how to first circle your brand page. Confused yet?
I could go on and ask why there is a Games menu item on our branded page nav, but honestly, that has little impact on the value proposition of creating a Google+ Page; it just makes the nav less user friendly. My point is, given that there are other activities of higher marketing value, maybe we should let Google flesh this out a bit more.
I suggest that businesses first make sure to claim and enhance their Google Place pages before concerning themselves with Google+ pages. I know that Google+ is new, shiny, and could turn into a great way to connect with clients, but there is already a long track record of benefits associated with a properly optimized Google Place page. If you have never claimed, or you want to freshen up your Google Place page, head over to Google Places.
Already have your Google Place pimped out? My second choice would then be other location properties like Yelp and Bing. Keep in mind that Siri, on the new iPhone 4s, uses Yelp. Bing has several mobile phone search exclusives, and since Yahoo search results come from Bing, that puts BingHoo searches at around 30%. To make it easy, just go grab all these local listings at getListed.org.