Earlier this week, an announcement appeared from Google concerning product pages for the highly desirable Google +. In it, Christian Oestlien, a product manager for Google +, advised businesses to refrain from building product pages -- which are akin to the Group pages on Facebook -- for the moment.
Now, thanks to an interview with Ad Age with Oestlien, the length of that "moment" now has some definition, provided your company is one of the chosen few that are allowed to create these product pages. According to the responses, a limited number of companies will be allowed to create brand pages in Google +, in what is sure to insight the resentful ire of those companies left out of the initial stages. In order to even be considered, businesses are required to fill out an application, of which, Google + has received "several thousands of applications."
The application process is only open for limited time -- no definitive date was given -- so if a company wants to be apart of it, now's the time to apply. The interview also indicates when these brand pages could become active:
Ad Age: When will you decide which companies are in the test phase?
Mr. Oestlien: In the next two weeks we want to be able to reach out to the test partners. We want to move very fast. Our users are incredibly fast, and we have a responsibility to be fast.
While Ad Age's article focuses on companies like Ford, MTV, and Mashable as potential aspects of the first wave, Oestlien foresees all kinds of businesses using the Google + brand pages:
We want to include everything from small businesses to individual contractors all the way up to the largest brand names in the world. What we're really looking for is companies that on the one hand have a real rich history of being active in the social sphere, brands that have strong, loyal audiences and are proactive and engaging and who want to spread it out a little more.
Oestlien is also impressed with the way Ford -- whose brand page was allowed to remain active -- uses the Google + hangouts section, which Ad Age calls the "signature feature of Google +."
The hangout is one of those things where it's really just the beginning in the potential ways it can be used. For companies to be able to talk literally face-to-face to their customers on a regular basis will be incredibly powerful.
Considering social networking and all of its various uses, would car owners, be impressed if Ford/Toyota/Chevy/Honda et al, were to directly engage them on a social media platform? Would that be considered effective customer service? Let's say a car owner's carburetor failed in their Accord. How satisfied would they be if the first point of contact with Honda was via Google + -- provided the owner was able to join?