After several months of anticipation, Google is finally rolling out brand pages for Google+. However, that in itself isn’t the biggest news if you are a communications professional. Along with unveiling the brand pages—which look just like normal G+ profiles, with the exception of a square icon that designates them as brand pages—Google has announced that the social media site will be further integrated into its robust search offering.
First, Google+ brand pages will be included in search results, and from there can be added to your Circles. Second, users will be able to instantly connect with brands via Google.com by simply typing “+” before the search query item (for example, if you’re interested in Angry Birds, you type “+Angry Birds”) and it will automatically take you to that brand’s Google+ profile, and even ask if you want to add it to your Circles.
“People search on Google billions of times a day, and very often they're looking for businesses and brands," said Vic Gundotra, senior VP of engineering for Google, in a blog post announcing the launch. "Today's launch of Google+ pages can help people transform their queries into meaningful connections, so we're rolling out [these] two ways to add pages to Circles from Google search.”
For brands and PR pros, this means one thing: instant connectivity with fans via the Web’s most visited and powerful search engine.
As per the blog post, pages and the newly integrated search service will roll out with several high-profile brands, including Pepsi and Toyota. Businesses will be able to get on to the platform in the coming weeks.
Romey Louangvilay, social media newsengine manager for Euro RSCG Worldwide, offers seven tips for brands that plan to launch their own pages on Google+:
1. Be transparent: In its announcement of the launch of Google+ brand pages, Google made it clear that it wants to build connections between people and brands. So be transparent. Be clear on who's doing the communicating, whether it's a PR agency or brand representative. If you aren't going to be transparent, then don't bother.
2. Monitor: Just because you're a big brand that created a page doesn't mean people will follow you. Brands need to monitor current conversations (via the Google stream) to see how they can interject their voice organically. You don't want to spam, so monitoring relevant conversations will help you be part of the consumer crowd.
3. Create a strategy: Whether or not you want to split messaging between your stakeholders and influencers, you need to organize a strategy. Think of the following: 1) Why do I want a Google+ page? 2) What will it be used for? Develop a strategy, even if it focuses just on grouping Circles or it's just a way to blast out company news.
4. Engaging content: Your +1 will be similar in function to your Facebook likes or retweets on Twitter. Think of content that your Circles will +1 or will share. Put on a magazine editor's hat and think how you plan on "selling" your page so people keep visiting. Content can range from ongoing special deals you'd release on Google+ first to behind-the-scenes photos and scheduled video Hangouts with top-level execs.
5. Actually engage: Brands often create pages just to create one. Some brands create a Facebook page to house random information and photos that don't correspond to consumers' needs. So if you're going to create a Google+ page, plan on actually engaging with your Circle. If someone writes something positive on your update, comment with a thank you or keep adding on to the conversation. If someone leaves a negative comment, respond according to your PR crisis best practices.
6. Dedicate someone to Google+: Figure out who will manage the page. Don't create a page and visit/update it every now and then—have someone overseeing it every day.
7. Make sure your brand page fits within your overall marketing strategy: Again, whatever your overall marketing strategy is, make sure Google+ fits it. Don't have your communications say one thing and your brand's social pages say something else.