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Google+ brand pages have arrived
Well, it's official: After months of speculation as to when they'd be available and what they'd contain, Google+ opened up registration for brand pages this week. And while there's been plenty of bandwagon-jumping going on (we've joined the fray too, with G+ pages for LJWorld.com and Lawrence.com), it'll certainly be a little while until we really see the potential of Google+ for brands. In the meantime, we're all in that fun phase of playing with the new technology and evaluating what we like and don't like. While there's much to appreciate about Google+ brand pages, in this first week we've noticed quite a few things that could, well, use a little tweaking. Anything you'd care to add to this list?
- Multiple admins, please. Unlike Facebook brand pages, a Google+ page currently can only have one administrator, making it difficult for brands where several individuals (or more!) speak under one brand voice. No one likes to work 24/7, and most people don't; therefore, it doesn't make much sense to have steering ability for an entire brand page under just one Google account, which is how Google+ authenticates users. Sure, brands can create a communal Google account and use that to register a page, but isn't that against the entire transparency ethic Google+ was built upon? Not to mention teetering on the edge of a TOS violation?
- We'd like to join hangouts, not just host them. In the case of a news organization like the Journal-World, it'd be immensely helpful to be able to join a hangout hosted by any one of a wealth of local businesses and organizations already setting up G+ brand pages. And to turn that around in the other direction, if your organization was hosting a press event in the form of a G+ hangout, wouldn't you want the media to be there under official guise? It'll be interesting to see how this protocol develops as more and more people (and businesses) start "hanging out" on Google.
- How about Google Analytics? Google's growing creep toward world domination would progress much more smoothly if its services did a better job of talking to one another. For individuals, poor communication between Google+ and Google Calendar has been a major stumbling block in the quest to get people to leave Facebook. For businesses and brands, lack of clean integration (or any) between Google+ and Google Analytics will likely keep brand managers from adopting Google+ at their earliest opportunity ... ironically, because Google Analytics has such high market penetration.
- Where are the vanity URLs? Not being able to point your friends or fans to a clean URL (on your business card, email signature or whatever else) is awkward for an individual, but lethal for a brand. Can you envision a newspaper print ad saying something like "Join us on Google+ at https://plus.google.com/#105409509778810673131/ ..."? We can't either. Sure, it's easy enough to create a shortened URL, even a customized one, and point your users to that - but why isn't this built-in Google functionality?
Here's the thing, though. Despite the laundry list of missing features, we still love using Google+, and we're excited about seeing how it'll develop. We're particularly interested in seeing how the Lawrence business community, always quick on the uptake for new tech, will embrace G+ for promoting and discussing local commerce and issues. So, please add LJWorld.com and Lawrence.com to your Google+ circles, and join the conversation!
Want to set up your own G+ brand page, but aren't sure how? Here's a nice tutorial from Mashable. Have you already got a page? Tell us what you think of the new functionality in the comments.