Google+ has finally rolled out official brand pages, at least for a few select brand partners. The question on everyone's mind: are they better than Facebook?
Social media gurus, mavens, divas, strategists, professionals and plain old practitioners scrambled to Google+ this morning upon the announcement that the service was finally allowing a limited number of partners official brand pages. The Open for Business sign is out!
The service, whom many see as a viable competitor to Facebook, launched a little over 100 days ago and now has 40 million users and 3.4 billion photos uploaded. One of the early complaints about the site, however, was the lack of ability to create a business (or "brand" page). Google has insisted that only people could create accounts, with the promise that corporate brand pages were coming, and that they would be really great.
So... are they really great? As a company, Google tends to do limited rollouts so that users can play with the product and help crowdsource new features, and Google+ is no exception. Over the last few months, Google has added over 100 new features to the burgeoning social networking site.
And today, the Google+ brand page is born.
Vic Gundotra, Senior Vice President of Engineering, introduced pages today on the Google blog:
So far Google+ has focused on connecting people with other people. But we want to make sure you can build relationships with all the things you care about—from local businesses to global brands—so today we’re rolling out Google+ Pages worldwide.
So... are the brand pages really great and worth the wait? TechCrunch reports the following features:
- You can place people into Circles, which lets you share content with specific sets of users.
- You can launch video hangouts, which lets you have face-to-face conversations with your followers.
- The Pages work through the site’s mobile app.
- Pages have both a +1 button and an ‘Add to Circles’ button. The latter is what permits the Page to start sending you updates. And the +1 button? It does essentially nothing, at least as far as users are concerned.
A few partner brands have put up pages, including the Muppets (who have a Hangout scheduled at 4:30 Pacific today) and Burberry, which created a magical animated GIF (you have to imagine the snow falling. Trust me; it's pretty). If Twitter is any barometer, that one distinctive feature sets Burberry apart, even in the early adopter crowd:
Social media savvy Dell also took care both to create a page and to blog not only about the page's mission statement but also about the basic use of Google+ for those not yet converted--a bang-up idea for a brand looking to extend its outreach to users.
So far, Google+ brand pages are merely potential. Brands can share content in a remarkably Facebook-like way... and that's it. So far, brand pages are lacking some of the features that give Facebook its value for marketers: the ability to add apps and the ability promote events and host event discussion boards. With any luck, the next 100 edits to Google+ will incorporate those functions.
I'm not ready to call these a Facebook-killer yet. But I'm curious to see what companies do with them.