… or is it MySpace?
There is outrage across the blogosphere about Google’s decision to delete Google Plus accounts created by businesses and not individuals. Google doesn’t want business on Google+… yet. Google announced that businesses could sign up by July 15th to be part of a beta program and when tens of thousands of businesses and non-profits applied, cancelled the test. Um, who is surprised that tens of thousands applied to a little known Google program? If the barriers were removed, it would be millions by the end of the month. This is Google we are talking about!
A post from Christian Oestlien The Google+ Project | Ads Guy on Google+ states:
A few weeks ago we mentioned we would be doing a test of business profiles and asked people interested to apply. Believe it or not we actually had tens of thousands of businesses, charities, and other organizations apply to take part from all over the world. Many of you have reached out to me personally through Google+, e-mail, chat, and even other Googlers. Thank you. Your response has been humbling.
With so many qualified candidates expressing intense interest in business profiles, we’ve been thinking hard about how to handle this process. Your enthusiasm obligates us to do more to get businesses involved in Google+ in the right way, and we have to do it faster. As a result, we have refocused a few priorities and we expect to have an initial version of businesses profiles up and running for EVERYONE in the next few months. There may be a tiny handful business profiles that will remain in the meantime solely for the purpose of testing how businesses interact with consumers.
In the meantime, we ask you not to create a business profile using regular profiles on Google+. The platform at the moment is not built for the business use case, and we want to help you build long-term relationships with your customers. Doing it right is worth the wait. We will continue to disable business profiles using regular profiles. We recommend you find a real person who is willing to represent your organization on Google+ using a real profile as him-or-herself.
It appears that Google wants to offer special pages for businesses to use and either didn’t realize that businessses would want to use Google+ or didn’t have time to build the pages. In another post, Christian writes:
We have been watching Google+ take shape over the last week and we’ve seen some really great companies get involved. But frankly we know our product as it stands is not optimally suited to their needs. In fact, it was kind of an awkward moment for us when we asked Ford for his (or was it her?) gender!
That’s just silly. Christian continues:
How users communicate with each other is different from how they communicate with brands, and we want to create an optimal experience for both. 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.
Looking at the Facebook and Twitter icons on every website, store front, catalog and piece of marketing material, it is hard to imagine that Google would consider launching its third(?) foray into social networking and not be prepared. Facebook has had huge success with the variety of brand pages it offers. I find it hard to believe that Google’s team built Google+ without looking at what worked and did not with other social networks. I would guess that every product manager, designer and coder on the Google+ team has a Facebook account and has for several years.
The beginning of the end for MySpace
I am more shocked that no one is talking about the best example of cutting off businesses from a social next: MySpace. Several years ago, businesses jumped on the social networking bandwagon and set up MySpace pages. I know that my company did. We had 5,000+ followers when suddenly, our account was blocked. It wasn’t deleted. We were unable to login and the custom design we had was removed and a basic template with a silly test profile pic remained in its place. MySpace refused to answer or help.
We all saw how well this played out for MySpace. Google has several high-profile flame outs in social media. If it follows MySpace’s lead with businesses, Google+ might just follow MySpace into history.
A simple solution
Let businesses sign up for accounts now. Knowing the limitation, be prepared to have these accounts migrated to the proper type of account when the new account types are ready. Unfortunately, Google isn’t building a migration tool.
Of course, there is outrage at just about every change on the Internet and it becomes the virtual equivalent of fish and chip paper. Do you really care today that Facebook changed your News Feed a few months ago? Was that when they… never mind, I can’t remember.