Google+ went “Pages” today, opening up its social network to brands and businesses, and others, the way Facebook and LinkedIn have. But one-upping those two social networks, Google+ enables businesses to meet their fans, friends, connections or, in the case of recruiters, prospects face-to-face via the multi-user video feature, Hangouts.
As a blog post announcing the new business pages says, “Not only can they recommend you with a +1, or add you to a circle to listen long-term. They can actually spend time with your team, face-to-face-to-face.”
Google is wasting no time promoting Pages. The search giant has added Pages to its search results page and is committing the + sign to simplify getting to a particular Google+ Pages site. A few businesses already have Pages up. Macy’s, for example. Get there by clicking the link or try out the + search by putting it in front of Macy’s in the Google search window.
Google is calling its use of the + search feature Direct Connect. Besides facilitating a Pages search, it offers visitors a quick way to add a business to their Circle of connections. (Circles are Google’s answer to Facebook friends.) Owners of Pages need only add a bit of code to their World Wide Web site. Eventually, when the + is used, Google will ask the searcher if they want to add the site to their Google+ Circles.
With more than 40 million registrants, Google+ has grown quickly since its launch early in the summer. Initially, Google discouraged businesses from establishing a presence on the social network. The company promised it would offer commercial opportunities. Now that it has, the question businesses face is whether to create yet one more site that has to be maintained and nurtured. For recruiters already trying to keep up with Facebook postings, Twitter, LinkedIn Groups, and the company blog besides doing everything else, it’s not an easy decision. Yet, the potential Google+ offers is significant.
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Google has clearly made a strong play versus Facebook and LinkedIn. Leveraging its search site to include + Pages and include an in-your-face connection opportunity gives Google powerful tools to not only promote its social site, but the Google+ Page site of every business, group, and what not that creates one. For that reason alone, employers ought to be considering creating at least a minimum Page site. Leave it at that though, and you miss an opportunity to experiment with the unique features Google has built into its social network.
Hangouts, the two-way video feature, has all sorts of potential for doing a lot more showing than telling about what a great place to work your company is. Circles is a natural for building multiple candidate and prospect pipelines that can be easily targeted. SearchEngineLand has an excellent primer describing in detail how to create a Google+ page and have it included in search results, and add the “Add to Circles” feature to your main site. That, at least, is a place to start.
Today, Facebook, with more than 800 million users, and LinkedIn, with more than 130 million, are the dominant social networks. But Google is making a strong play for a piece of the action. Although there’s nowhere near as much socializing or networking on Google+ as on the other two sites, that could change as users discover the unique features it offers and as businesses leverage those features in smart and innovative ways.