The long anticipated opening of business pages on Google+ is finally here. If you want some brief information on how to get started read Christopher S. Penn or Mashable. Both spots give quick, easily digestible information and will make creating an additional social media outpost for your organization as painless as possible.
But what does this mean for your association or member-centric organization? (Please note, it is possible that these things we point out below may be changed over the next couple of weeks as Google is encouraging user feedback and making adjustments accordingly.) As a business page:
1. You can not go out and directly add people to your circles. This means you will need to market your page more so than you have your other social pages. Tell others about it and they will have to actively add you. Prepare for a lot of emails and tweets in the next several days asking you to do just that. Folks are going to be bombarded by these requests. Keep this in mind. The requests are nice (and somewhat) effective but most of your success will rely on those already in your circles telling others of the fantastic content you are providing.
2. One person “owns” the page. Like on Facebook, you have an administrator but on your Google+ page, you only have one. Choose carefully as they are currently not transferable. The administrator will toggle back and forth between his or her personal Google+ page and your business page.
3. Multiple company pages are allowed. Your organization can have a page for support questions, programs, or events or house them all in one. Your choice. This may help you by-pass the current limitations explained with one administrator owning your page. The down side of this is that competitors or “haters” can create a page in your name but this is no different than the other sites currently out there.
4. You can place a Google+ button wherever you want people to like something. For associations, you could place this on event information, blog posts, services, seminars.
5. You can use Hangouts. Hangouts are video conversations through Google+. You can hold a committee meeting, receive face-to-face feedback on membership, create study groups for industry exams, whatever sort of meet-up suits your organization.
6. You can manage circles. One of the coolest things about Google+ is it’s easy organization structure. You can sort your business page contacts into circles that you create. This helps you with targeted messaging and sharing.
7. And eventually… people using Google search will be able to type in your organization’s name and add a + symbol and go directly to your Google+ page. This is not currently available to everyone and Google will tell you when it will be available to your organization.
A final note, you don’t have to create a Google+ page. Okay, so this doesn’t directly have anything to do with this new social media outlet, but deciding what is the best use of your resources is important. Do you have the manpower to cover another page? What do you plan to do with this page from a content perspective? Is your audience on Google+? Will they be? Have a conversation with different areas within your organization about strategy and content. Don’t join because everyone else is doing it.
If you’re ready to start another social media adventure, check out Google+ for business.