Recently, Google rolled out Business Pages for their social network Google+ (pronounced Google Plus).
If you are an early adopter, then you already know about Google+, but if you’ve never heard of it, then let me fill you in.
Google originally tried to roll out a social network called Google Buzz, but it failed. Google+ looks a lot more promising, and it actually has some excellent features.
Though it is cool, it can become cumbersome managing multiple social networks for your business, so what should you do?
Google+ vs. Facebook
Why would someone use Google+ over Facebook? It will really come down to preference. The pros of using Google+ is that it integrates with your already existing Google profile.
You have the convenience of flipping through various Google systems such as Gmail, Analytics, etc without having to log in.
It is easy to +1 directly from Google’s search engine, and they’ve done a good job of integrating it into many aspects of your “Google Experience.”
Largely, Google+ is very similar to Facebook in philosophy except for probably the biggest difference of all: Circles.
What Are Google+ Circles?
Circles are a way of organizing your “friends” into groups. When you add someone as a friend (this is called “adding to a circle”) you select which group they go into. As an example, you could have a circle for family, a circle for friends, and a circle for customers.
So, rather than lumping everyone into one giant list called “friends” you have a way of segmenting your contacts. The feature is user-friendly, and graphically pleasing.
“What good is that?” you ask? For one, no one can tell which circle they belong to. In theory, you could have a circle called “enemies” and the people in that circle would never know it.
But that isn’t the cool thing, this is where it gets really good: When you post to your “Stream” (the equivalent of a wall) you select which circles can see it! How cool is that? So, you can send out a product update to your customers and not bother your family and friends who may not care.
Sure, you can exclude specific people on Facebook from your wall posts, and send to specific lists on Facebook, but Google has brought this functionality to the forefront of their social network which makes it a social network that is much more “marketing friendly” out of the gate.
The major con that I notice now is the lack of people on Google+. With Google Buzz failing, and everyone being on Facebook, Google definitely has an interesting battle to wage in order to make it into the “Socially Accepted” Social Networks list.
Another con, which really isn’t unique to Google, is the learning curve. It takes a while to get used to the interface, and to get used to the new lingo (i.e. circles instead of friends, stream instead of wall).
One thing that has confused me is the seemingly random times where I can’t seem to add someone to one of my circles. It tells me that they need to add me first. I’m not sure if this is a privacy feature, a glitch, or if I’m just doing something wrong, but it has happened more than once.
The last con I can think of is the lack of vanity URLs. Facebook allows you to get a Facebook.com/yournamehere, but Google does not, and according to their technical support, will not ever have vanity URLs as an option.
A couple of third-party services have stepped in to fill this void, so it isn’t a huge issue. The one I used was gplus.to which allows you to create a vanity URL for your page.
Google+ Pro/Con Recap
If you don’t feel like reading the explanation above, here is a short recap of the pros and cons as I see them:
- Google+ Circles are cool, and while not unique, they were implemented well.
- Google+ integrates in the Google profile that you most likely already have.
- It is easy to +1 pages that you like because Google+ is everywhere.
- The lack of people. I imagine this will be temporary if Google can persevere.
- The learning curve. Everyone has been Facebookified.
- Some odd behavior with adding people to circles, but this could be my own user error.
- No vanity URLs. This makes me sad.
- Your stream isn’t searchable (as far as I’ve been able to tell).