After three months of waiting Google + Brand pages have launched. Businesses were told that the wait was necessary as Google wanted to get the brand pages right, so that there would be a great user experience for both the brands and the regular users.
Google + Brand Pages: Not Worth The Wait
After all the waiting, what did Google actually deliver? They delivered exactly the same page that regular users have been using for the past three months. The only slight variance is that the default circles are named differently. Did the Google + team hand this project over to a bunch of interns? There is no imagination in these pages, it’s less usable than Facebook business pages. For example the pages can only have one administrator. When you use the Google + business page it signs you out of your personal account, meaning that any action you then take on Google + is as the brand page – a PR nightmare waiting to happen. It also requires you to sign back in to access your personal account – this is cludgy and poorly thought through.
You know you have screwed things up when one of your most vociferous advocates – in this case Robert Scoble – states on his blog:
Anyway, this is just a way for me to tell anyone thinking of signing up their company for a Google+ brand account to think twice.
That’s a pretty damning statement for the platform, which undeniably a lot of people want to see succeed. Perhaps Mark Zuckerberg’s assessment of Google + as being Google’s “own little version of Facebook” wasn’t far off the mark.
Google + Lacks Imagination
Google is a complex beast of a company, with most staffers having very little insight into the bigger picture of the organization. This hasn’t stopped it from producing some incredibly innovative products, from the Android Operating System to self-driving cars. The one area that Google has consistently missed the mark is social. Google + is the best attempt by the company so far, after the messes that were Wave and Buzz. However, the sheer and obvious lack of thought that has gone into Google + business pages is bewildering. They had the chance to change the game and bring something to both businesses and users that would have sealed the deal and had mass migration from Facebook at least for businesses.
Instead what we have is just another place for brands to post their press releases, product announcements, blog posts and generally annoy the rest of the ecosystem. Google has missed the opportunity to redefine how brands act on Social platforms. They could have made Facebook look very 20th century and laid the ground rules for the 21st century. What went wrong?
Google + Business Pages – What Went Wrong?
Firstly, Facebook, like it or hate it, is a tough act to follow. Google has its work cut out for it trying to persuade anyone from the mainstream to move over. Of course the rush of social marketers, tech geeks and brand managers was great at first and the platform has certainly carved out a niche in the hearts and minds of those people, it still isn’t offering anything radically new. Yes there are differences between it and Facebook – Hangouts are cool but so what? One cool feature doesn’t a successful platform make. MySpace was “cool” for years before Facebook.
Secondly, the lack of apparent thought that has gone into some of the features makes me wonder who exactly is designing this product, it certainly isn’t the same talent behind things like the Android OS. Perhaps the problem is that Google is primarily a geeks club. They produce some awesomely geeky tools. Android OS is much more favored by the geeks than iOS for a good reason. With Google + its like the matheletes have been placed in charge of organizing the prom – they know what their fellow math club members want but have no idea how to appeal to the jocks, debutantes, or any of the other students.
I’m with Robert Scoble on this one. If you run a business think long and hard before setting up a Google + business page, because ultimately you are going to be struggling to produce additional content for it.