Is Google+ the greatest thing since sliced bread? That’s actually a pretty strange standard by which to measure innovation these days. But depending on what Internet buzz you’re reading you could certainly come away thinking that Google+ is the greatest thing since… well… Facebook. If that’s what you’re leaning toward then you might also be wondering what’s in it for your businesses. Well the short answer is nothing! In fact it appears that Google is actually sending a warning to businesses: No profiles, or else! Or else what?
To date Google+ has been an invitation-only project solely open to individuals, not businesses. But that hasn’t stopped companies like Ford and Coca-Cola from jumping on board – perhaps for no other reason than to begin doing some recon. But there may be consequences to disregarding Google’s request that businesses refrain from getting in right now.
Some companies who’ve begun experimenting with the commercial use of Google+ have amassed small armies of followers, or “circles of friends” as it were, in the new social medium. But gathering some early intel appears to come with a price – one that these companies aren’t overly concerned about right now. Google has made it clear that none of the data from those rogue business profiles, i.e. business masquerading as humans, will be able to be transferred to the new business pages when they arrive sometime in the third quarter of 2011. Is that a big deal? Eh, maybe. Maybe not.
For small businesses the smart money seems to be on playing by Google’s rules for now: Hold off on “going rogue” with a business profile masked as a human. Why? First, as a small business you can gather as much intel, and get as much Google+ experience as you need, by experimenting with your personal profile (All of this assumes you received an invitation to join Google+ in the first place. If you didn’t, just leave a comment on here we’ll send you one of the few we have left.) Besides, unlike the big companies, who have social media chieftains they pay to play with this stuff, if you do put together a plump little circle of friends/prospects for your business, you’ll have to deal with the hassle of prodding them to your business page when it becomes available. You probably don’t have time to do that. Best just to play nice with your Google+ friends for now and let Google develop the business features you’ll love to have in the future. But there’s another reason to hang back and trade a good opportunity for a better one.
Google understands that people interact with brands and businesses differently than they do with individuals. So it would make sense that Google’s planned roll-out of the business platform will include some great features specifically geared toward helping you be successful in their “brave new world.” Will it really be a big deal? There are a few things to think about if you’re going to decide for yourself.
The application to get in on the Google+ small business experiment closed on July 15, 2011. Sorry. However, there’s already talk of what’s coming down the pipe. A Google spokesperson is quoted as saying, “There will be a product very soon that has businesses’ interests in mind… We want to give them the features businesses expect and the features that can improve the sharing experience both for consumers and businesses.” Google went on to say, “You can expect to see a level of analytics and measurement that you’d typically find in Google products as well as a nuanced approach to how things are shared. It encourages and enhances conversation, it doesn’t just put things in the stream.”
Ok. So Google is revealing about as much of their plot for social media world dominance as a much-anticipated blockbuster movie trailer. They’re doing their best to not spill their candy in the lobby, as it were. But take what you can get, and take it to heart. After all, the original plan for Google+ was to allow no commercial activity at all. But after observing the sheer number of businesses flocking to the new medium, Google quickly realized the mistake in their thinking, and now the only thing businesses have to do is have a little patience.