The reaction to Google+ Pages is mixed, with critics highlighting a number of features that, quite frankly, we expected after Google’s repeated assurances that it would be worth the wait.
They didn’t want to jump the gun and launch them before they were ready, that’s understandable. To be fair, Facebook had years to develop their version of brand pages and they continue to evolve. If you’re going to take on the social media Goliath, though, you had better come out swinging and knock our socks off.
There are some really cool features with this initial version of Pages. Direct Connect allows users to search from Google.com and add the Page to Circles from the results page. The other really different, useful feature of Google+ Pages is the ability for the brand to sort their audience into different Circles (currently VIPs, Customers, and Team members) to share posts with select followers.
However, Google+ Brand Pages are inexplicably missing what many consider basic functionalities, such as:
- Custom URLs
- Contests/promotions (not allowed)
- Multiple user admin or posting privileges (reportedly in the works)
- Page analytics
- Clear separation between personal/professional identity
- Email or navigation bar notifications
As a group, we seem to be picky and unforgiving on some of these features because we’ve already seen them on Facebook. Google needed to hit this out of the park.
We're used to doing things a certain way, yet most of us are open to change if there is a clear benefit for us as marketers, or for our clients. We have yet to see the brilliant, game-changing feature that will convert not only brands, but the consumers they are trying to reach.
It almost seems as though Google’s plan is not to attract people to the site, but to bully them into participating. We heard from Google’s Vic Gundotra at the Web 2.0 Summit, and again from Bradley Horowitz on Bloomberg, that people will eventually participate in Google+ because they are already there. So some of them don’t know it yet. So what? Eventually, they’ll realize resistance is futile.
Google knows they have the upper hand - they are everywhere. They don’t have to hit it out of the park, because they have the time, money and influence a startup company in the social media space can’t afford.
This approach reeks of arrogance and runs counter to the user-centric approach we had grown to appreciate from Google as they grew to the force they have become today. You will most likely create a Google+ brand page, whether willingly or only begrudgingly, because Google is big enough and has enough reach and other products to make it clear to customers that you don’t.
You're going to need a place to aggregate those +1s that are now appearing in SERPs, on display and mobile ads, and elsewhere around the Web. Your competitors are going to be in the space, so you're going to have to be there. As Mashable pointed out, it’s so incredibly easy for someone to set up a fake page that you need to be there to ensure a poser isn’t representing your company.
It may be cumbersome and tedious at first, as they’ve tried to launch as quickly as they could and will clean up the mess later. They will listen to user feedback and add features like multi-user admin access and editorial tools.
We’re not complete jerks, most of us understand that there will always be bugs to work out with any service. However, Google+ Pages aren’t a completely new innovation. Facebook has done this before. That some basic features are lacking in Google’s version is baffling.
Are we spoiled? Maybe. Entitled? Possibly. But this is the state of social media marketing as it is today; the innovations of five years ago don’t suffice.
As Google+ power-user Robert Scoble expressed, this first iteration of Google brand pages is confusing, tedious, and even scary. A period of trial and error with users as guinea pigs wouldn’t be as much of an issue with personal accounts, but who wants to play fast and loose with their business reputation?