Google+ Pages - A very early review

google-plus

google-plus

Google+ pages (launched recently) now provide an opportunity for businesses, and not just individuals, to participate in the still nascent social network. Along with this feature launch from Google came myriadarticles and how-toguides all geared at bringing people up to speed quickly. There are a few key features that are showing great potential and also a few features that are glaringly absent.

First, the drawbacks: 1. Page administration - This is the biggest current drawback. Business pages on Google+ can only be administered by one person. Google prefers you be a "real" person to participate on Google+ as an individual. Further, only individuals (a "real" person as Google sees it) can create business pages. So once a business page is setup by an employee only that employee can do anything with the account because it is tied to their Google+ profile (and their Gmail account by extension). Trying to get around this requirement is risky as Google has proactively closed many accounts of personal profiles that were not genuinely tied to "real" people.

[Update: This is the single largest feature currently being requested by business users of the Google+ platform.  Given the highly iterative nature of Google it is natural to assume they are working on this.]

2. Notifications - Business pages do not receive notifications via email or in the notification bar. Everything is still manual.

Advantages:

1. Search, of course. Google+ pages, the +1 button and Direct Connect (more on that below) are all geared at providing Google with more intelligence.  This will help to improve search results and also search advertising.

2. Message segmentation - The Circles feature in G+ allows you to segment your audience. Once done, you can also segment your messaging (very similar to segmentation when sending email marketing messages). One big caveat is that creating Circles is currently a manual process and can be very (very) time consuming.

3. Direct Connect - This feature allows G+ pages to show up as the first result in Google search when using the "+" qualifier. Visit Google.com and type "+a". Experiment with different letters and you will see the companies that are currently participating.

Google+ direct connect

Google+ direct connect

Those are the big advantages/disadvantages out of the gate.  This platform will change fast.  What's clear to me is that Google has moved beyond a remedial understanding of social media.  They get it now.  They've spent critical time thinking about how to build out a social network and the most compelling issue for marketers to consider is how G+ activities will affect their search marketing (including advertising) results.  Pay attention here and stay ahead of the game.

[UPDATED] Mashable reports that multi-admin capability is coming soon.