(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.
SUBSCRIBE AND FOLLOW
Get top stories and blog posts emailed to me each day. Newsletters may offer personalized content or advertisements.Learn more