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Google finally launches Google+ Pages for businesses and brands

Google+ pagesGoogle is finally starting to unveil the master plan behind its +1 scheme. Today the site announced Google+ pages, the long-awaited answer for brands wanting to get social through Google. It’s Google’s answer to Facebook Pages, and something users have been wanting—nearly begging for, since Google+ launched.

The update means that brands and companies will be able to garner +1s for their businesses, as well as take advantage of elements like Hangouts (something some have been using for professional purposes already). Users will also now be able to loop Pages into their Circles as well.

There are a couple of things to be aware of when you launch a Page. First of all, everything on a Page is automatically public, unlike personal profiles where it’s limited to your Circles by default. Secondly, users don’t need to worry about Google+ spam (at least for the time being), because Pages can’t just troll the social network adding people to their Circles left and right. Users will have to add a Page to their Circles before a Page can return the favor, and thus gain the ability to reach you.

Google also announced a feature called Direct Connect, which basically auto-connects you to a brand’s Google+ Page when you type +[insert brand name here] into search. It’s only available for a few businesses today (including Google and Pepsi), but the roll out will continue. Google is assuredly trying to get businesses wanting this application, banking on the idea that consumers will begin searching for things with a + attached. While the release is limited, Google says you can check out its Help Center for more information.

google+ direct connect

And if you’re anything like us, you might be wondering what the difference between hitting a Page’s +1 button in Google+ and hitting the +1 button that comes up with you search for a site is. See the image below for clarification.

the plus button

Well the answer is they both serve the exact same function—it’s a +1 overlap. So what’s the point? Google remains cagey on the +1 button, and Web masters are still wondering what effect the tool has on page rank. While we await the answers, visit our brand new +Digital Trends page, and check out the video below for a closer look at Google+ Pages. 

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Molly McHugh
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Before coming to Digital Trends, Molly worked as a freelance writer, occasional photographer, and general technical lackey…
Come one, come all: Google+ officially opens up for business
welcome to g+

After what felt like one of the lengthiest private beta testing periods, Google+ is finally up and running for everyone. For those of you who are just now jumping on board, the site has probably been labeled many things, including anonymity killer, Facebook challenger, privacy champion, and even big disappointment. But none of us really know exactly what Google+ is, not yet, as Google continues to alter and improve its biggest foray into social networking.

Now when something becomes easily available, people aren’t likely to beg for it as they did before--which Google knows all too well and took great advantage of in its Google+ infancy. But just to play devil’s advocate here’s why you should and shouldn’t want to jump on the G+ bandwagon.
Why you should
Odds are you use at least one Google product or property, be it an Android phone, a Gmail account, or Chrome. And while Google+ is still working on more fully tying in other Google applications (come on in-page Gmail client!), that black unifying bar makes for a new social networking experience. In Facebook, you are more cut off from the rest of the Web (although this is changing more and more), but with Google+ you’re able to stay within the site while only a click away from any of your other Google accounts (which, yes, are technically unified under your own Google account).

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Google+ launches suggested users list similar to Twitter
Google Plus Circles

Yesterday, Google's Bradley Horowitz used Twitter to tweet out a call for Twitter users with more than 100,000 followers who also had a Google+ account. Horowitz was searching for a batch of users for a pilot program of a suggested users list, very similar to Twitter recommending specific people or brands to follow. Late Friday, Google launched its first attempt at a suggested users list on an official Get Started page. These picks are split into multiple categories such as entertainment, news, music, photography, politics, sports and technology. Google also listed a curated selection of top picks from all the categories. 
Users can add celebrities and other popular figures directly from the page as well as assign these people into circles. It doesn't appear that users have the ability to create their own lists yet, beyond segmenting people into circles. Twitter added the ability for users to create custom lists in 2010, but the feature isn't widely used. Initial reactions to Google's suggested users list is that the list is too similar to Twitter's recommendations and many people on the list were simply chosen because of fame rather than quality or frequency of posts. For instance, two people in the sports category, Jillian Michaels and Erin Andrews, haven't created a post on Google+ since July. The most active category unsurprisingly appears to be technology.
While it appears that Google is currently valuing celebrity status over quality, they are rumored to be working on a way to promote the value of a user that posts quality content. Google also recently added the ability to watch YouTube videos with friends on Google+ through the Hangouts feature. When logged into a Google user account, a link for Google+ Hangouts appears beneath the video on the YouTube page. The concept is similar to Microsoft's feature on Xbox Live that allows friends to jointly watch a film and chat with each other during the viewing.

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Facebook and Google add Like, +1 buttons to Chrome

Without a mention last month, Facebook released a plugin in early July to provide a built-in graphical button and pop-up menu functions for sharing a page on Facebook. After adding the plugin, users can click the thumbs up button and a pop-up window appears which loads the Facebook Like button widget. Users can also right click on any webpage to bring up a menu for liking, recommending or sharing the content. There isn't an option for Facebook's Send button though, a function that allows users to send content to any email address as well as people on the Facebook friend's list. A user doesn't need to be logged into Facebook to get the button to work and there's minimal setup to get started.
Google also launched a plugin for a built-in +1 button. The button is installed in the top right hand corner of the browser, right next to the Facebook Like button is both plugins are installed. In order to use the button, the user needs to log into a Google account. After logging in, only a single click is needed to +1 a page. Google did not announce the plugin on the official blog and it's surprising that +1 functionality hasn't been seen in the continually updated versions of Chrome. While over 14,000 people have installed the +1 button (compared to around 500 for that Facebook Like button), building +1 into Chrome would reach millions of Chrome users upon the next update of the browser.
Google has made it clear that the +1 button isn't being used to track user behavior when surfing the Internet. While Google retains some information about visitors for maintenance and debugging, there's no categorization based on the personal details of the profile like name, age or gender. In addition, the information is deleted approximately two weeks after a user visits a site.

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