Yesterday Google finally rolled out Google+ Brand pages to the world at large. Stating that they want to "build relationships with all the things you care about", Google+ Brand pages is Google's answer to the widely popular Facebook pages offering. As the Social Media Product Manager at CBS News I was understandably curious to see what Google has to offer and how it compares to Facebook.
So how do Google+ Brand Pages compare to Facebook pages?
To put it bluntly, Google+ Brand Pages are mediocre at best. For a company that prides itself on innovation it is hard to believe that so much time was spent creating such a lackluster product.
As someone who uses Google+ on a regular basis for personal and professional reasons, here are the limitations as i see them:
A Google+ Page can only be tied to a single Google account. In order for a social media or editorial team to access a page the login needs to be shared with everyone who wishes to access the page. The shortcomings of this approach are obvious from the get go. There is no accountability for the content posted on a page. There is no way for a team to split up duties.
In other words, only one person on one team can post to a Google+ page. This was clearly not thought through by Google. The problem is also exacerbated by the lack of a solid API (more on that later).
Analytics are non existent on Pages. There is no way for me to tell what content has done well over a period of time, what my followers are sharing or even how many page views my page receives. Google wants brands and businesses to invest time (and therefore money) posting content and interacting with their audience on Google+ yet publishers are lacking even the most rudimentary tools needed to measure audience sentiment and engagement.
The lack of a Google+ API has been brought up before but it has never been more apparent than after the unveiling of Pages. One of the advantages of using Facebook and Twitter over Google+ is the availability of robust third party publishing and analytics tools. Using Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, Seesmic and other tools allows users to schedule the publishing of content to Facebook and Twitter. This is extremely useful, particular for smaller organizations that do not have the resources to manually publish content throughout the day.
Currently the only way to publish content to a Google+ Page is to login to the Google account associated with that Page and publish content manually. If Google wants brands populating their pages with content they need to accommodate the needs that organizations have.
"Follows us on Twitter @CBSNews"
"Add us on Google+ at https://plus.google.com/117831279655356042125/"
The problem here is obvious. In order for organizations to promote their pages they need to have an easy way to direct people to them both online and offline.
With all of the social networks that come and go and the argument over the ROI of social media it is difficult for organizations to decide which networks are worth pursuing. Based on the current Google+ offering I would argue that if you value your time it is better spent elsewhere.