Google+ Pages finally launched with bang, or at least a small pop and fizzle. The company waited a baffling long time to launch their professional pages - so long that it seems much of the general public has lost interest. Nevertheless, it's Google and over time a G+ pages will become an important tool in search and customer relations, especially for storefront businesses as these pages become business listings.
The business pages have a lot of great qualities, one of them being that signature Google cleanliness. That's a welcome change from Facebook's increasing messiness. However, for the amount of time Google took in developing the professional pages after the initial launch, we still see a number of glaringly omissions that need to be added before Google+ becomes a viable competitor.
No Custom URLs
There is really not much explanation needed here. It should seem obvious for the folks at Google to have vanity URLs available to pages. Maybe not all pages, but at least go the route of Facebook and provide custom URLs to pages once they establish a certain number of followers. It's difficult to link to a random set of numbers and letters. I can't imagine we'll have to wait too long before these become available.
Direct Connect is a tool where typing +business name into your search bar will prompt the business's Google+ page to appear as the top search result in the drop-down menu, bolded and bigger than all other listings, and links directly to the Google+ page. It would be pretty handy if it weren't so elusive.
Direct Connect is attained when Google's algorithms decide the page has earned it. Followers are obviously a big factor and Google suggests that adding a link on your Plus page, as well as adding a piece of code to your website, will help Google recognize and verify your page.
However, who knows how long that could take or what the criteria are - Google never tells you. Why there isn't a verification request form is a bit baffling. The option to request verification from our Google Ad representative would be helpful too. Either way, it's a neat feature that is far too exclusive. If they expect this search habit to catch on they are going to have to make it more attainable.
Here's a new term I hope becomes commonplace in our industry - auto-circle. The circles are a great feature, and it's the feature that sets Plus apart from their social competitors. Circles are simple and required, keeping our Google+ profiles tidy and making it easy to direct certain content at the ideal audience. However, for large brands who want to follow and engage with their fans, keeping up and organizing followers into all appropriate circles is going to be difficult.
A company may want to organize each of their followers by age, location, and sex; that's a lot to keep up with if you have fans pouring in. Ideally, if we created these circles, when a brand gained new followers Google+ would have an algorithm to "auto-circle" them into the appropriate categories. That way the brand has an exhaustive list when it wants to target a specific audience within their followers. This may sound like a pipe dream but if you're gonna dream, dream big right?
No Contests or Promotions Allowed
According to the Google+ Content Policy, a brand cannot administer a contest, giveaway, promotion, etc. through Google+. However, you may link to a contest hosted elsewhere, like say ... Facebook. An odd move on Google's part to encourage brands to drive traffic away from their platform and onto the competitor's.
Not that I'm impressed with most social media platform searches but ... this is Google. That's sort of their thing. After creating the Luckie & Company page, I tried finding it through the search bar and turned up results for all our employees but no trace of the new, official Luckie & Company page. I realize the page had no followers at that point but it was the day Pages launched, no one really had any followers at that point. How are we to build an audience if the audience can't find us?
Not to mention, the search offered no organization to sort out people and pages or search by some demographic; it was just one big lump of useless results. I have to say this was the most shocking discovery, Facebook is beating Google at their own game.
No man is an island, and neither are companies. Currently, Google+ Pages are only allowed one administrator - the person who created the page. Unless Google wants people running around creating fake personal accounts in order to avoid giving out their personal email address to all their coworkers, they better rectify this. Fast.
Facebook pages were certainly no gem when they were launched years ago and are a constant work in progress. So Google should certainly get some time to figure this all out. However, this is Google's fourth attempt at social platform and they hoping in pretty late in the game. At this point, it should be apparent what is and is not necessary to survive. Although, I guess if that were the case we'd all still be Buzzing.
In your experience with the new Google+ Pages, what are the changes or additions you would make?
Kammie Avant is a social media planner for Luckie & Company. You can contact her by e-mail or follow @KammieAvant on Twitter.
Photo credit: amala_tc on Flickr.