Google has opened its social network Google+ to businesses and brands, allowing companies to create their own pages, but the move has received a mixed reaction from industry experts.
Google+, which launched in June as a direct competitor of Facebook, has already attracted more than 40 million users worldwide.
“So far, Google+ has focused on connecting people with other people,” Google spokesperson Vic Gundotra said in a blog post.
“But we want to make sure you can build relationships with all the things you care about – from local businesses to global brands – so… we’re rolling out Google+ Pages worldwide.”
Google is marketing the pages as a place where customers can speak directly with businesses, either through chats or from reading information.
Gundotra said the new feature will allow users to “hang out live with the local bike shop or discuss your wardrobe with a favourite clothing line”.
Chris Thomas, chief executive of SEO and SEM company Reseo, says businesses should definitely consider Google+ Pages as a viable channel.
“[However,] you should take a ‘wait and see’ approach when you’re talking about setting up a whole new online world,” Thomas says.
Stewart Media chief executive Jim Stewart believes Google+ is an entirely different medium to Facebook and should therefore not be overlooked.
“For businesses, it’s a great way to communicate with an audience… I think it’s a medium that’s going to be around for awhile,” Stewart says.
Stewart warns that if you leave your competitors to utilise the Google+ platform, and you don’t, it could affect your rankings.
“From a search perspective, it’s very important because Google is integrating authorship, which is the ability to identify someone who wrote a piece of content. That’s important if you are assigning ownership to content,” Stewart says.
Meanwhile, Google Ventures is the latest investor to sink funds into US-based start-up Milk, a mobile development lab founded by Kevin Rose, Jeff Hodsdon and Daniel Burka.
Milk recently announced its first mobile app, Oink, which lets users rate and discover things in the places around them, essentially serving as a directory and recommendation system.
Last year, Milk raised $1.5 million in a seed round from investors including TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington, First Round Capital and True Ventures.
The total amount now raised is $1.7 million.
“We started talking to Google after we closed our round but decided to open it up for them as they’ve been adding a ton of value right away,” Rose told TechCrunch.