Google announced its Google brand pages Nov. 7 and you can find plenty of instructions and analytical writings about what works and what doesn’t. For an excellent account of how to get started, check out SearchEngineLand’s Danny Sullivan’s initial and follow up posts. Setting up a brand page itself is pretty simple. Google brands is experiencing the usual glitches – rogue and fake pages, buggy buttons, duplicate and confusing points of entry. It will work itself out and then the quest for connecting and sharing will begin in ernest. Hangouts, ripples and circles distinguish Google+ from Facebook, but really they both feel very similar.
So I’m less interested in how Google+ and its brand pages operate than in how they will affect the equilibrium of the social Web.
I’ve been thinking about what Google+ brands could mean specifically for local business.
Standard wisdom is that Facebook is all about sharing, and Google is all about searching. Mark Zuckerberg confirmed that general wisdom when he spoke with Charlie Rose Monday night . If I had a nickel for every time Zuckerberg said “share”….
With its 800 million users, Facebook is increasingly seen as an extremely rich dataset for marketing and as its own search engine. With the addition of Google+ and brand pages, Google has now boldly pushed into the sharing business.
The equilibrium between sharing and searching could now shift and its impact could be felt keenly by neighborhoods and local businesses.
Why do I say this?
The local business is already tapping into the traditional neighborhood customers, those who make their choices based on word of mouth. The neighborhood business is already connecting with the digital search customers, those people who head to a search engine, most likely Google, to find a restaurant or a local shop. But the local business that wants to grow might logically look to win over the connected consumers, those experiential curators who share everything they do on various networks like Facebook, Yelp, Blogger, Twitter, Trip Advisor, YouTube, you name it.
Solis said and I mostly agree that all a local business really needs to plug into the connected consumers these days is a Facebook page. They don’t even need a web site. I’ve written about this before, as well.
But Solis and I spoke before Google brand pages were unveiled.
I see the Google brand pages as a powerful mechanism for converting digital consumers to connected consumers, the group already growing in numbers. Google is already a monolith, a hulk of a destination where any search begins.
I can see that in a year’s time, we’ll have grown used to and come to expect Google’s plus ones, Direct Connects and other enhancements as every day efficiencies and services. Google is going to look like a totally different search engine and it will be a place for sharing because we will like the seamless way it shares. And I am betting Facebook — more subject to human errors of omitting useful information— might have lost much of its luster as a place for brands although moms and dads and old classmates will still gather there.
As an example, tonight I headed over to Facebook to look up my gym and find the time for a certain class – it wasn’t listed there. So I headed over to Google where I saw the schedule, Yelp reviews of the class, a list of competitors and everything else I could possibly want. Why even bother with Facebook, I asked myself. And soon, I expect my gym will have a Google+ brand page and then it will be a double why bother as I see my favorite instructors post there as well as hear about special programing.
Searching and sharing will be so much more powerful when it loses a click or two the way it can be done on Google.
Take a look at the graphic of the small business social media ecosystem from Intuit and let me know you think it might change after Google brand pages have been around a year — I think significantly. But you tell tell me what you think.