(By Andrew Chow - Reuters) Google Plus for businesses has finally opened its doors.
The world's most visited website has announced the grand opening of Google+ Pages.
Like the old-fashioned Yellow Pages, Google+ Pages offer businesses a way to connect with customers -- but with a lot more interactivity.
So why get your own Google+ Page, when you're already swamped with followers on Facebook and Twitter?
Experts are chiming in, and their answers fall into three broad categories.
More than 1 billion people use Google's search engine every month. Google Plus for businesses allows you to potentially tap into that traffic, as Google+ Pages are now showing up in search results.
With the launch of Google+ Pages, the website is also debuting a feature called "Direct Connect." Users who type "+" in front of a company's name in Google's search field will be connected directly to the company's Google+ Page, if there is one.
People with personal Google+ profiles can recommend your business with a "+1," or add your business to their "Circles" so they can follow your every post. They can even chat with you or your employees face-to-face over Google+'s "Hangouts" feature.
"Hangouts" is more than just a way to video chat, it also lets your team work on shared files in Google Docs from remote locations, in real time. Businesses can also use "Hangouts" like a virtual whiteboard for brainstorming.
Customers can also collaborate via "Hangouts." Businesses can host live customer feedback discussions, for example, giving you insight into your products and your customer base, a columnist for Simply Business suggests.
As you may have heard, Google+ features "Circles," which lets you pick which posts are sent to specific groups of followers.
This could be a boon to businesses that cater to certain demographics, The International Business Times suggests. For example, a business can create different content for different age group "Circles," or send special offers to customers in a certain geographic "Circle."
However, keep in mind that Google Plus for businesses are still evolving. Critics note that Google+ Pages are still in need of business-friendly features like website analytic tools and personalized URLs.
Copyright 2011 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.
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