Business Pages for Google Plus
Bookassist’s Ciaran Rowe talks about Google+ business pages and how hotels should react to this new platform.
Following its initial limited release in June 2011, the number of users on Google+ rocketed, reaching 25 million users in the first 4 weeks and hitting 40 million in October 2011. The use of Google+ by businesses was banned until this week, when Google announced Google+ pages for business .
The approach taken by Google+ is different to that of Facebook & Twitter, but includes aspects of both. Users can +1 your page, which is similar to a Facebook Like, or they can add your page to their Circles as a page that they are following, similar to following in Twitter. Users can also share the page with people in their circles.
Creating a page
Setting up a page is very straightforward. The first step is to set up a Google+ profile. This can only be done by an individual rather than a business. You will need a Google Account which can then be used to access Google+ . At the moment there is no option to share or transfer access to the page, so be careful what email address you use to set it up.
Once the page is set up, the administrator will have the option of posting as themselves or as the page. You can then can start to create a new page through the set up page. Individual hotels should set up as a local business, whereas chains could set up as a Product or Brand.
Once you add your phone number (including the area code), Google should identify your property from your Google Maps listing, so you just need to select the correct listing if there are more than one, and enter your category (lodging for accommodation providers). From there it is just a case of adding your profile picture and information such as web address and contact details.
The next step is to post information, photos & videos and try to create interesting content that will engage users. As your followers grow, you will then be able to engage with the community and reply to comments and shares.
- Interface - So far the interface is quite basic, so their is no option to personalise your page like Twitter, nor to create landing pages as on Facebook.
- Automation - There are currently no tools to allow automation of posting such as Hootsuite & Tweetdeck etc.
- Multiple Pages - It is possible to set up multiple pages under the same profile, which could be a very useful feature. For example you could set a new page for a spa or leisure centre, or a page for your conference facilities, or even a page for an event such as a Wedding Fair.
- Vanity url - At the moment there is no option to create a ‘vanity url’ so the page names can be quite cumbersome - a long string of numbers such as this: https://plus.google.com/117945956773155200439.
Google recommend adding an icon to your website which links to your Google+ page. (Get the badge here.) This is worth doing, as soon Google will accumulate all your plus ones from various sources, so it is better if they associate your page and your website as one. It will also allow your page to be found using “Direct Connect” which is a new search operator on Google. It allows the user to place a + before a term and see the Google plus page appear in the suggestions, eg +Bookassist . This allows a user to connect directly with a brands page from Google search. (Note: this is feature is not yet available in Europe)
As the Google+ business page is in it’s early stages, it is difficult to ascertain how useful it will become, but as set up is relatively quick, it seems to be worthwhile starting a page as long as there is someone available to update the page. This is particularly true as Google will inevitably use information on +1’s and pages as a signal for ranking on Google search.