Google said it would start communicating with some businesses about brand profiles on Google+ this week, but they also said they'd shut down the ones that had already been popping up.
Here's what Google's Christian Oestlien said on July 6:
We have a great team of engineers actively building an amazing Google+ experience for businesses, and we will have something to show the world later this year.
The business experience we are creating should far exceed the consumer profile in terms of its usefulness to businesses. We just ask for your patience while we build it. In the meantime, we are discouraging businesses from using regular profiles to connect with Google+ users. Our policy team will actively work with profile owners to shut down non-user profiles.
Over the next few months we are going to be running a small experiment with a few marketing partners to see the effect of including brands in the Google+ experience. We’ll begin this pilot with a small number of named partners.
Businesses were asked to apply for consideration.
Oestilen then posted another update on July 13 saying some would be coming this week, and that the application was being shut down (last Friday). He wrote:
To the thousands upon thousands of businesses that applied to be a part: THANK YOU! We won't be able to accommodate everyone, but your interest has got us very focused on accelerating our development plans.
He said Google would be selecting a diverse set of business partners for the test period, and they'd be in touch with those selected this week. They will "let the world know who they are" soon after, he said.
We still don't know who the chose few are, but they have been shutting some down. Among those removed so far are Boing Boing, ABC News Radio, and Search Engine Land to name a few. Search Engine Land posted the following to its Facebook Page:
Google+ brand pages are down, including ours. We'll have an update on what's going on shortly, but you can always check back here, searchengineland.com or good ole Twitter.Looks like
Google has yet to get them all. Here's a Best Buy Mobile page for an Avon, Indiana location, for example:
Mashable News is still up and running as well.
It's unclear whether these profiles have just eluded Google's watchful eye so far, or if they're among the selected partners.
Update: Mashable Founder Pete Cashmore updated the Mashable profile to say:
We chatted with the Google+ team today about their plans for branded accounts, and we've both agreed that while the Mashable community is very engaged on Google+ and we all have great fun joining discussions here, it would be better for Mashable to wait for branded profiles to launch officially before having a company presence on here.
Mashable will be launching a new business profile and building it up from scratch once business accounts are available.
This account will continue to exist, but going forward it'll have my name and picture, and I'll continue to post here.
1) Do not invest in formal brand marketing on Google+. As we have seen, Google+ is now policing its network and you risk losing your entire time investment. Further, until the business offering is created by Google, no one really knows how corporations and nonprofits can successfully navigate this new social network. In essence, until Google+ for business is released efforts are likely to be all for naught
2) Do experiment on Google+ and learn how the network works using your personal profile. It’s too soon to formally say that Google+ will be a significant consumer network, but with reports of 18 million followers and growing, momentum indicates the network is succeeding. Further, as demonstrated by its policing of the network, Google is clearly focused on community first. Becoming knowledgable through participation on Google+ is prudent at this point.
3) Be wary of marketing services firms and individuals who are seeking paid fees for Google+ marketing insights. Again, per the first point, no one really knows how to market on Google+. Investing financially in Google+ is not a good use of resources until finite offerings are available. Ethically speaking we would not charge our clients for advice and strategies in the face of such uncertainty.
Probably sound advice.
It is clear that Google is taking the business elements of Google+ very seriously. It seems like they want to keep brands from using it in ways they didn't intend perhaps, to keep the reputation of the service more in their control. Google has a lot of business-related products that could be integrated with this, and it sounds like they really do want to do something special with the brand profiles, compared to the personal profiles based on Oestlien's words. It will be interesting to see what they come up with.