It's the moment marketers, social media professionals and brands have been waiting for. Google+ Business Pages had finally been released out into the social networking world. I first saw the news on Google+ from a share by +Robert Scoble. There were profile pics, "About" sections, and initial posts about how brands had arrived on Google+, oh my!
Yet, as expected, they're really not that much different than a personal profile. The only difference I saw after creating one for the company I work for was that I didn't have to use a human name anymore. Yawn.
It's evident (once again), that you have a company with amazing technology, scientists and engineers who even after years of seeing how businesses are using Facebook, still either left out, or chose not to create, almost all of the crucial components used by marketers to engage and build their communities. What about contests? Polls? What about the ability to view engagement analytics about your page or provision spots for other admins now that it's common for multiple teams to be managing social pages for brands?
Look, I was as excited as the next Google geek, social media professional, or technophile, to check this out and get it going as soon as possible. I had very high hopes. I created my business page within minutes of the announcement and was ready to roll with it and factor it into the mix of web properties for a big brand I help manage. But while it only took me minutes to create the page, I realized the only reason it took only a few minutes was because there wasn't much to the page after the fact. Unfortunately it was just a personal profile with a company alias and logo slapped on top of it.
The only thing I liked about the business pages was how it can be used within the context of Google Circles, making it easy to share Circles with partners and other brands. At the end of the day though, all that says is that I like something that really had nothing to do with the Google Business Pages launch in the first place, I'm still really just enamored with Circles.
We all know the potential of Google+ for business. Now that we've had a few years to work out some marketing/PR kinks on Facebook for brands, we know that with Google's engineering expertise, they could really create something amazing. I really think that their next release needs to focus on making available the marketing focused pieces of the puzzle to be competitive and make it worth it for brands to get their top social media folks in there to build it out and invest some in it, beyond just a company logo, profile info and a 'Hello World!' statement.
You can't build something that will serve a marketing purpose if you don't think like a marketer while building it. Start with the humans and reverse engineer the functionality to serve them.
SIDE NOTE: They need to be careful with the automatic switching of who you are logged into Google+ as. When I would go to my business page, it automatically switched me to be using Google+ as the brand. If you aren't careful and don't pay attention, you'll be posting photos of food and your OccupyWallStreet rants on the social network as the company you represent and not as yourself. Ouch.