Google has yet to release its highly anticipated business profiles for the Google Plus social network (beyond basic test accounts such as the Ford Motor Company). What they’ll include in a public release remains to be seen. But if Google wants to know what businesses want and need in those new profiles or pages, we have a few suggestions for them.
1. Social Analytics & Ad Targeting
Business owners want to see real results for the time and money they put into social media. They need to know what works (and what doesn’t) when reaching their customers. With Google’s already-popular Analytics service, integration would be a great step, giving them Web analytics and social analytics all from one familiar platform. Businesses could segment members of their network by demographics to see what genders, age groups, and other groups interact with their brand in different ways – mentions, comments, and +1s for example.
As this social and demographic data is collected, it would also be great to see Google Plus leverage that information in ad targeting for business users. These ads could be run through their existing Adwords platform or a fresh and more social ad format solely for the G+ network. Brands using Google Plus could advertise on the network, with ads automatically appearing on profiles of users similar to those following the brand. This way, ads wouldn’t be limited to existing followers of a business, but could also reach users with the same interests, in the same local markets, or fitting the same demographic profiles.
2. Vanity URLs
Businesses care about branding, and that makes vanity URLs a must. In other words, let’s see http://plus.google.com/YourCompany instead of something like http://plus.google.com/7634289694283927349. Vanity URLs let companies highlight their brand names when promoting their social profiles, making the profiles themselves more marketable.
3. More Robust Direct Messaging
There’s a direct email option in Google Plus, but for businesses to use that, members of their network must have email enabled for their own accounts. You can also directly send a post to a single person. That poses other risks due to the “reshare” feature of Google Plus. To minimize the risk of private communications being forwarded to others’ networks, employees with access to a company’s Google Plus account would have to remember to choose the “lock this post” option for every private post.
Google can do better – from better archives of private conversation streams (similar to an inbox) to a simple “let this person contact me privately” link. In the latter, a customer could click that link when requesting private support or information from a business, and the company could then bypass their default email settings to contact them via email.
4. Ecommerce Integration
If companies can make money on Google Plus directly, they have more incentive to stay. This could even involve Google Plus integration with popular payment processors like Google Checkout and Paypal. Or Google Plus could involve itself in the daily deals phenomenon, letting companies post their own deals and coupons, highlighting them in a special G+ feed.
5. Opt-In Circle Subscriptions And/Or Auto-Grouping
While it makes perfect sense for the circles of personal Google Plus users to be private, business users should have the option to make some circles public. This would allow followers to “subscribe” to certain messages from the company in lieu of signing up for an email list. Companies also wouldn’t have to manually add followers to these marketing-oriented circles (which would be ethically questionable versus opt-ins).
Another approach to help businesses cut back on manual segmentation in circles is to enable auto-grouping. When a brand adds users to its network, Google could automatically identify similarities with network members in different circles, suggesting groupings for new users who are added. This auto-grouping or suggestion feature could work alongside circle subscriptions on the user side.
In addition to grouping users brands add to their networks, Google could suggest additional circles for followers who subscribe to receive certain types of updates. To combat privacy concerns, users could have a privacy setting enabling or disabling companies from adding them to other circles beyond what they’ve opted into. For example, this might let them subscribe to receive special offers without being added to circles broadcasting company news.
These are some of the things we’d love to see included in Google Plus business profiles. What about you? Would these ideas benefit your business? Do you have other business profile suggestions for Google? If so, tell us about them in the comments below!