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While the buzz over Google+ has certainly dropped dramatically in the months since Google launched the service, one of the more eagerly-anticipated features has been Google+ pages for business. Yesterday, Google formally launched Google+ Brand Pages.

Although the service suffered a few hiccups yesterday and wasn’t completely available for all users, by late afternoon it was up and running for everyone. We set up a VantagePoint page (please add us to your circles!), and captured the step-by-step process it took us to do so.

Here’s how to set up a Google+ brand page for your company:

1. Log in to your Google account, presumably one that you already have a Google+ account for. (It appears you cannot, at present, use an existing Google profile you may have created for your brand or company.) IMPORTANT: for the near term, you will be the “owner” of this profile, and it will be linked to your Google account. Others will not be able to edit this profile until Google opens up brand pages for multiple editing. Keep this in mind as you proceed.

2. Visit http://plus.google.com/pages/create.

3. You will now see the “Create a page” screen. Now it’s time to get started.

4. On the left side, choose the category that you wish your company to belong to. For now, we’re going to assume you will be a “company, institution or organization.”  Unless you have a major brand or a local walk-in store, this is probably the most appropriate category to choose. (If you roll over the category types, you’ll get a brief explanation to help you decide.)

5. When you choose your category, the right side of your screen will populate with several fields for you to fill in, including company name, website, business type, and page visibility. Fill in the appropriate blanks.

6. After a few seconds, you will see the beginning of your company’s Google+ page.

7. Enter your tagline. You can enter as many words as you want, but only the first 10 words will be displayed on your profile.

8. Add a profile photo — or a logo. Clicking on the “change profile photo” will bring you to a screen where you can import and crop an image.

9. When you’ve updated the tagline and the profile photo, click “continue.” You’ll next have the option to tell your circles about your new page from your personal Google+ account. Go ahead — or you can wait until later as well — and click “Finish” when you’re done.

10. You’ll now be taken to your official Google+ brand page. There are a number of options here to get you started in sharing, promoting, and linking to your new page. One of the nice things that Google has done is make it easy to switch between using the page as “you” or as “your company” by clicking on the little arrow next to your profile photo/logo.

11. You’ll also notice your stream changes appropriately — instead of friends, family, and following, you’ll see links for customers, VIPs, and team members.

Spend a few minutes exploring Google+ brand pages. Your first instinct will be to start adding folks to your circles. However, it appears you currently can’t — that is, until they add you first. (All the more reason to add VantagePoint to your Google+ circle!) We’re not sure if this is temporary, or if it’s Google’s way of making sure brands don’t overwhelm the general public.

Time will tell whether Google+ will replace or merely supplement Facebook and Twitter (or disappear entirely, as several other Google properties have). But for now, we think it’s important to take advantage of a social media service directly connected to the world’s largest search engine.

motorola droidYou’ve probably heard that Motorola, Verizon and Google have introduced the Droid phone. By all accounts, it’s a very strong smartphone, with great integration with other Google products (e.g., Gmail, Google contacts, etc.). (Here’s a 16-minute podcast review by local technology expert Phil Yanov.) But the advertising? Well, it’s been all over the map.
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