This week, Advertising Age spotlighted a curious inconsistency from Google execs regarding Google+ brand pages. Immediately, companies accustomed to business pages on Facebook and Twitter tried to create standard profiles in their names, though there isn’t yet a distinct niche on the platform for organizations. One by one, Google suspended these accounts – since profiles are meant to be for individual users on what is perhaps the most promising social network to come along recently.
As Ad Age notes, it’s as if Google wasn’t expecting this to happen – which is odd, because it seems as though the mega Web presence would have anticipated the demand. If Google looks at its competitors and still feels the need to confirm the popularity and the call for brand profile pages, it’s either missing something huge (worrisome) or has something up its sleeve (far more likely).
Just to make things more confusing, Google went on to allow and maintain a Ford brand page, allegedly for testing purposes. Then it asked for applications from outside companies, and accepted a slew of them to analyze – purportedly to select a small number of brands who could begin building pages. But then it was announced that this tactic of applying for brand profiles also wouldn’t remain, and the idea was dashed with an announcement that public brand profiles would be rolling out within a matter of months. It’s been so broadly confusing that Google reps have even made statements admitting its poor handling of the situation.
Google+ remains in Beta, with users still testing out features and personally inviting friends through limited invitations (much like the halcyon days of Gmail), but analysts predict that it has what it takes to be major competition for Facebook, which has all but monopolized the market in recent years. As of July 2011, Ad Age reports that Google+ has 20 million users, compared to Facebook’s 700 million worldwide.
The most recent word is that business accounts are still being developed by Google+, while there’s been no clear answer about why Ford was chosen as the sole supported brand profile. In the meantime, Google continues to promise interested businesses that they can take advantage of the enhanced analytics and tracking available through Google+ — an area it clearly recognizes as lacking from Twitter and Facebook. So apparently they have done some homework about what businesses want and need from social network sites after all.