Are you a business user struggling to find followers on Google+? Then read on for news that will be just up your street. Google launched Business Pages for Google+ back in November 2011, and now the search giant has finally enabled Page users to communicate with all users on the service. Equally of note, a dedicated analytics product is coming soon to Google+ business users.
There are a few significant updates: Google has confirmed the change to interactions with a statement which you can find below. The company has also said that it does not have immediate plans to introduce analytics. Since we published this story, it has altered the Web page which said analytics would roll out soon.
In the past, pages — such as TNW’s — were unable to +1, share or comment on posts made by users that were not already circling them. Now, however, that restriction has been lifted giving businesses the freedom to engage and interact across the service.
There’s more good news for business users since Google says it will launch an analytics product for Google+ “in the coming weeks”, according to its Google+ for business page:
Data trumps guessing every time. That’s why in the coming weeks we will be launching tools to give you access to as much data as possible about your Google+ page and +1 activity: who’s interacting with your page and how; your users’ demographics; and info about their social activities like +1′s, shares and comments — all to help you learn how social campaigns affect your bottom line. [Update: This text has been removed, and the link now points to a revised Google+ for businesses page which no longer contains details of the plan to introduce analytics. See Google's statement below for more.]
The move to allow greater interaction from Pages is a significant one since it will let Business Page accounts build their follower bases in a much more proactive and strategic manner. Previously, new users might circle a Business Page because they had stumbled on its content via a friend engaging with it, found it via a search or perhaps after being directed by links on a website, such as our Google+ links on thenextweb.com.
Those routes to engagement are out of a company’s direct control, but now that Pages can seek out and comment/share/+1 any user’s updates, that means the chances of striking up engagement and getting circled by new users have increased greatly. The onus is on businesses to use this new freedom responsibly and not to spam Google+ users.
We tested it out to be sure. I uncircled TNW and our Page admins were still able to comment on my post, as you can see below.
This change was not officially announced by Google so we reached out to the company for more details. Nonetheless, the specifics are explained in this Google+ post from Talking Moose Media, shared by the ever-useful Googleplusupdate account:
Google+ Pages are able to interact with personal profiles that have NOT circled them!
Yes! A page can now +1, share, comment and plus mention personal profiles that have not circled them.
Yesterday, I saw a test post by +Denis Labelle, wondering if pages could interact with personal profiles that have not circled that page. I was able to comment on that post from my page and continued to poke around with the idea later that day and into today.
This is an exciting new feature for small to medium business owners like myself. I am hopeful that page owners will handle this new feature with care and respect.
December has been a month of many updates for Google+. Google introduced Google+ communities, added 16 new features and released an update on the service’s overall user numbers. It says Google+ has more than 500 million registered users, of which 235 million actively use its features (+1′ing apps in Google Play, hanging out in Gmail, connecting with friends, etc) while 135 million are active in the stream only.
Update 1: Google replied to us with the following statement, confirming changes to Google+ sharing:
“We’re always experimenting with new ways to make the social experience more organic. As such, Pages are now able to comment freely on posts of interest to them. We think this provides a better sharing experience for pages and profiles alike. For example, if someone praises their favorite bakery on Google+, that baker could now say thank you to that customer, right in the stream. Or if someone posts about a customer service issue, that business could reply directly, providing a better user experience.”
Updated 2: The company has denied it has plans to introduce analytics to Google+ business users:
“We’re always looking at ways to give businesses more insights into their online activities and continue to test new ideas, but we don’t have any details to share right now.”