In its latest effort to compete with Facebook, Google + is now allowing businesses to create pages just like (wait for it....) FB.
Full article here on Search Engine Land.
Important excerpts for those looking to try this out. (Including yours truly, who just added it to the ever-expanding system upgrade project!)
Not everyone who goes to that page will get in (many will get a “Google+ Pages isn’t ready for everyone” message). Again, it’s a random rollout happening over the next two days. But once you gain access, you’ll be asked to create a page in one of five categories:
- Local Business or Place
- Product or Brand
- Company, Institution or Organization
- Arts, Entertainment or Sports
Here's where it gets interesting:
Of course, many local businesses have already claimed their pages in the completely separate Google Places. Much of the information that Google+ Pages for local businesses wants — and more — are on those pages. But they remain unconnected. Google tells me: "Currently, Place pages and Google+ Pages must be managed separately. A Place page provides information about a business and makes it easy for customers to find local businesses on Google Maps and local search; while a Google+ page provides business owners with additional ways to engage, build relationships and interact directly with customers."
So if your small business is already listed on Google Places (and you should be to boost your rankings. If you're not, then what are you waiting for???) you have to decide if you want to put the time and effort into a second Google-based networking tool that isn't connected to the first. AND - has fewer eyeballs than Facebook by a landslide.
Review the article at the link above for more info on how to create a page, including some interesting limitations to the obviously step-wise technical rollout. IMHO, the desirability of a Google+ business page is going to be directly proportional to the amount of time and effort you want to put in to (a) experimenting with new outlets and (b) using social media at all.
I got the "not ready for everyone" message so I'll rely on the comments section of those who want to play with this new function for a first-hand account of its workability or lack thereof.