Google+ Pages for brands launched early today, with a select group of launch partners. Later in the day, G+ Pages were opened up to everyone. ReadWriteWeb, among others, immediately created a Page. I took point on developing RWW's one and afterwards I was curious to see what other brands had done. While it's very early days, it was clear to me what works and what doesn't in Google+ Pages for brands.
One thing to note is that Google+ Pages aren't fully developed yet. For example, currently only one person can administer a Page. However Google+ engineer Dennis Troper assured everyone that "this is just the beginning!" Specifically, he stated that "a few of your top requests we've already started working on, such as multi-admin support, ownership transfer and page analytics."
Having said that, there is much potential for brands in Google+ Pages. Given that some companies got a head start in developing their Pages, let's look at what they came up with.
The Google+ team helpfully created a shared circle of the launch Pages. It features 36 Pages, 16 of which come from within Google and 20 of which are external brands. The external brands include retailers (Macy's, H&M), sports teams (Phoenix Suns, Dallas Cowboys), mainstream media (Anderson Cooper 360, Fox News), entertainment (The Muppets, The All-American Rejects) and more.
The Muppets Hangout... But Forget to Hang Out
The Muppets did a much publicized Hangout (a group video chat), which due to demand was affected by technical issues. However, more importantly, there was no interaction with the audience. One viewer called it an "elaborate ad for the next movie." Google+ user M Monica wrote a disappointed review, noting that it "came across as a media/pr blitz with little consideration for the fans."
Brands will need to watch that Google+ doesn't become just another way to advertise their wares to a mass audience. Google+ is known for its topic-focused conversations, so the creators of The Muppets need to find ways to really engage with its audience - not just show them a video.
Hangouts can be a great way for brands to interact with their audiences. Imagine for example if Kermit and Miss Piggy took questions from the other users in the hangout. Sure that's risky for brands, but that kind of two-way interaction is necessary if brands are to use Google+ effectively.
CNN & Fox Reach Out To Their Viewers
The Page for Anderson Cooper 360 made a good attempt at creating a conversation around a hot topic for the day. It posted the following, presumably while the show was being broadcast on TV:
"Are you watching AC360? Anderson is talking to James Carville and Ari Fleischer about the woman who claimed on camera, in detail, that Herman Cain made unwanted sexual advances."
The Page currently has over 8,500 followers, but the above post only attracted 11 comments and 7 +1's. Still, it's just Day 1 for the CNN Page and the quality of those 11 comments is encouraging. Once the Page gets promoted more by the show and gains more followers, I expect we'll see more viewer interaction. I like that they posted this while the show was happening and tried to get a conversation going in real-time.
Fox News seemed to fare better in its coverage of the Michael Jackson doctor trial verdict. Although to be fair, its posts came earlier in the day.
Entertainers & Retailers Feel Out G+
The initial sports and music Pages are mostly using Google+ to post photos and videos, although some promise to "hangout" with fans soon.
The retailers are, as to be expected, using G+ Pages to promote their wares. The Macy's Page wrote in its introduction: "Stay tuned for exclusive info on sales, promotions,events and more." As with entertainers like The Muppets, Macy's needs to be careful not to create a one-way advertising experience.
The giant retailer is, however, promising "9 lucky trendsetters" a hangout with Fashionista Executive Editor and mBlog Style Blogger, Leah Chernikoff. So far 14 comments have been made on that post, including this potential question for Chernikoff: "What is the best way to mix pumps and tights that are more than just black on black?" So if you're interested in knowing the answer to that, tune into Macy's hangout.
It is very early days for Pages with brands. Already though you get the sense that the best way for brands to use Google+ will be to truly interact with their followers. Whether by posts that solicit comments or by video hangouts, Google+ is best used to engage in conversation with other people.
Indeed, that's what we'll be trying to do over on the ReadWriteWeb Page. So circle us on Google+ and together we'll talk about what's next on the Web! (yes that was an advertisement of sorts)
Lead Image by M Kaye