If you haven’t set up a Google+ Page for your brand yet, you’re missing out on the Internet’s new favorite pastime: complaining about Google+ Pages.
Brands should have a lot to complain about. Marketers all over the world paying any attention to social media have been eagerly awaiting Google+ Pages. Google took a few months to release Pages, and what went live is a scaled-back version that will satisfy some smaller businesses but will underwhelm large brands accustomed to other social platforms.
For brands that can cope with Google’s growing pains or that can wait for Pages to evolve, most of the current limitations should fade in the coming months. Meanwhile, early adopters of Pages will have their headaches, and the kvetching will keep on coming.
Many kvetches will be objectively sound. There are shortcomings to Pages today, and some of these drawbacks may linger for a while. For a balanced look, though, here are five things you won’t like about Google+ Pages, and why they won’t be that big a deal down the road.
1) You’ll have to learn a new language. You may have learned a lot of the language if you experienced Google+ as a user, with all the plussing and circles and hangouts and streams. Did you know that if you made a list of all the terms introduced by social media companies and services, it would fill up almost half the space of an Oxford English Dictionary? I just made that up, but if that statistic sounds plausible to you, then you won’t enjoy decoding a new lexicon.
Why it’s not such a big deal: There are about 10 words to learn. Maybe it’ll be 20 within a year. That’s the equivalent of one week’s worth of homework when you studied for third-grade vocabulary tests.
2) You’ll reach the same people through Google+ that you’ll reach in other services. Yes, there will be overlap, and this will be truer for some brands than others. So now you’ll have to spend even more time reaching all of these people you’ve been able to reach through existing platforms.
Why it’s not such a big deal: Regardless of which social media services your brands are active with, it’s a safe bet that only a small minority of your audience will see any individual post. This gives you another way to make sure your messages are received by people who want to receive them.
3) You’ll reach entirely new people through Google+. Who are they, and why are they following you there when they had all these other ways to find you before? Can’t they just consolidate around your Facebook page so you can get back to your day job?
Why it’s not such a big deal: Google has been slow to share details about the audience using Google+, but in time Google should wind up shedding more light on who these people are. In the meantime, ask your followers what they want to get out of your Google+ Page.
4) There’s no geotargeting posts. Brands love to localize content. It’s what they do at brand marketer parties after playing Pin the KPI on the ROI. Facebook has allowed targeting posts by geography for years, and Google knows a few things about geotargeting. What gives?
Why it’s not such a big deal: You still can’t do this on Twitter. That hasn’t prevented millions of marketers from asking, “What’s my Twitter strategy?”
5) Where are the analytics?The official Google blog post announcing Google+ pages does not reference analytics. The help files for Google+ include references to “sports,” “coffee,” and “AdWords,” but there’s nothing on analytics. If Google is going to compete with Facebook for brands’ attention, analytics is the way to do it.
Why it’s not such a big deal: Analytics is one thing Google does unequivocally well. Remember, before Google acquired Urchin and turned it into Google Analytics, Web analytics were either meager or expensive. Thanks to Google, marketers and publishers of all sizes have had access to a robust analytics suite for free. Expect Google to turn this into a major competitive advantage for Google+. This analytics arms race will also lead to much better offerings from Facebook, Twitter, and others.
Expect to hear all sorts of other complaints. Most of them will be marketing folks sitting in the back of the Googlemobile asking, “Are we there yet?” And then Google’s going to turn around from the driver’s seat, yelling, “If you don’t cut it out this instant, I’m going to bring you back to Google Buzz!” That’s the cue for everyone to buckle up. When Google steps on the gas, Google+ Pages are going to get a lot more fun.