Google+ has just launched Google+ Pages for businesses. It's currently being rolled out over the next 2 days. What are Google+ Pages and what does it mean for your online store? Well, let's find out. In the meantime, stop by Shopify's Google+ Page and add us to one of your circles.
What is Google+?
Google+ has been called Google's answer to Facebook. Since the launch this summer, Google has released some impressive numbers showing over 20 million users. Since its launch though, Google+ has only been open to individuals with Google deleting business accounts.
In many ways, Google+ is very similar to Facebook. You can follow people (and now businesses) and see items from them in your feed. One of the big differentiators for Google+ is Circles, which allow you to place people and businesses into Circles (or groups) so that you can view a separate feed for each.
What Does Google+ Mean for Ecommerce Stores?
When Google launched the +1 Button, we posted about the usefulness of the Goolge +1 button for ecommerce. It was pretty obvious how +1's would increase traffic and hopefully sales to your online store. With Google+ Pages, the direct link to ecommerce sales is a little less obvious. Many said the same thing about Facebook way back when, but now we find many shops using Facebook to connect with their customers and potential customers, not to mention selling directly on Facebook.
Google+ will likely hold a similar position to Facebook for ecommerce marketers. It will be a place where they can communicate and build relationships with consumers. The current make-up of the Google+ population likely skews towards more techie folks, most people's mothers aren't on Google+ yet, so ecommerce sites that target these groups should jump in early.
As with anything Google does, it is likely to impact search rankings in one way or another. Just as likely is that Google won't let us know exactly how it impacts search. One immediate change is the new + operator. Now, entering and "+" before company name in the Google search bar will bring up the Google+ profile for that company along with logo and tagline from Google+. NOTE: I can't recreate this functionality at the moment, so this must still be rolling out. Here's a video showing how it will look:
Another cool Google+ feature that ecommerce sites can take advantage of is the Google+ Hangouts which is kinda like group Skype on steroids. Hangouts allows you to create video chat rooms for you and your friends or customers. In their Google+ Pages announcement video, Google shows a bike shop using Hangouts as a video-chat webinar like tool:
Today's launch made me think of Gary Vaynerchuk and his love of context marketing. A couple of months ago, I interviewed Gary Vaynerchuk about his book, The Thank You Economy, and this is what he had to say about new social media platforms and their impact on business:
"Facebook and Twitter and Friendster and MySpace and Plurk and Sprouter and... whether they come or go... I don't care. It's a platform where I can meet somebody. The context and the value is in the relationship I make there. I have 30,000 followers on Google+ in the first five minutes. Not because I'm rocking it on Google+ but because my relationships went there. It doesn't matter where you have the relationship... the relationship comes with you. Relationships don't go anywhere, that's equity we're trying to build, don't be scared where you make them."
How to get a Google+ Page for your Ecommerce Site
As mentioned above, Google is rolling out this new product over the next 2 days, so not everyone will get to set up their Page the first time they try. If you get a message saying "Google+ Pages isn't ready for everyone" keep trying.
First, you will need a personal Google+ account in order to create a Google+ Page. Next, visit any current Google+ Page (may we suggest the Shopify Google+ Page?) and click the blue button in the left sidebar that says "Create a Google+ page". Either you will be led through a series of steps to create your Google+ Page or you will be given the dreaded "Google+ Pages isn't ready for everyone" message. Google has done a good job of making the instructions for set-up quite clear and easy.
Once you've created a Google+ Page for your Shopify store, please add Shopify to your circle so that we can do the same.
As this is a brand new product, there will be lots of cool new ways to use it. If you've come across something I've missed, or you're using your Google+ Page in a new and interesting way, let us know in the comments below.