Finally, Google is now allowing businesses, brands and any non-human entity to participate in its Google+ social network, through new Google+ Pages that are launching today, promised to be available to everyone shortly.
Businesses Weren’t Allowed, Initially
Businesses have wanted to be part of Google+ from the start. In fact, many businesses and brands made use of regular Google+ accounts as a way to participate on the service despite their non-human status.
However, in July, Google terminated any business accounts that it spotted, including one from Sesame Street, promising that formal business pages would come — and that they’d be worth waiting for.
Google+ Pages Now Welcome Businesses
Now businesses are being welcomed in, through the new Google+ Pages program. Beginning today, and rolling out over the next two days, businesses will be able to create Google+ pages for themselves, using the Create A Page tool (and assuming you already have a regular Google+ account — more on this below).
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 (NOTE: Google tells us now everyone should have access). 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
Local Is Different
If you’re creating a page for a local business, you have special options including the ability to enter a phone number. From Google’s help page on the topic:
Local Google+ pages are unique from other categories of pages because they have features that allow customers to easily connect with that business’s physical location. For example, local pages include a map of the business’s location and feature its address, phone number, and hours of operation.
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.