Google+ for business - 6 must-have features

Google+ is one of the most exciting new developments in the social web for some time – and its potential implications for business are huge.

As we discussed last week, we already know about a handful of the features that will be included when Google+ for business launches later this year. Before that launch, Google is asking for feedback.

Having played with the product for a couple of weeks, we have compiled a list of features we would like to see. Let us know your Google+ for business feature wishlist in the comments below!

Vanity URLs

This is a no-brainer. As it currently stands, Google+ addresses look something like this: As you can see it’s impersonal, it’s impossible to remember – and it’s probably not great for SEO.

Some enterprising person has set up a site that allows you to create your own, unofficial Google+ ‘vanity URLs’, but this seems rather like a bodge job. Google really need to give businesses the chance to set their own, memorable URL – something that Facebook only achieved fairly recently.

Negative Circles

Circles are amongst the most useful and innovative features of Google+. They allow you to choose who you broadcast to, and they encourage you to keep your contact list well organised.

Circles would be far more useful, however, if they allowed you not just to include, but also to exclude specific followers or groups. A good (non-business) example of this would be a scenario in which someone wanted to publish something on their feed that all their work colleagues could see – apart from their boss. Currently, in order to achieve this the user would have to remove their boss from their ‘work’ Circle, and put them in a separate Circle altogether. It would be far more efficient if users were able to broadcast to all but certain Circles, and to exclude specific individuals from broadcasts.

Better Sparks

Sparks give users the opportunity to specify their interests, and receive related articles in their feed. At the minute, Sparks are little more than glorified news aggregators – but they could be so much more.

Google should consider offering businesses the opportunity to broadcast to individuals who are ‘subscribed’ to specific Sparks. For example, if your business sells widgets, you should be able to broadcast messages to users who have set ‘widgets’ as one of their Sparks. Your messages could appear, for example, as ‘sponsored listings’ in much the same way as PPC ads on Google search. This would provide businesses with a new, highly targeted way to expand broaden their reach and increase brand awareness.

Multi-platform integration

Facebook and Twitter integration are currently conspicuous by their absence. Many individual users have been calling for a way to sync their tweets or Facebook updates with their Google+ account – but proper, business-oriented integration could go much further.

Businesses should be able to migrate their existing followers or fans to their Google+ profile, rather than requiring them to find you all over again. Of course, this would require some sort of invite system for users who are not already signed up – and this is where the problems might arise, not least from a legal point of view.

Integrated e-commerce

It would represent a huge missed opportunity if Google failed to integrate some sort of e-commerce solution into their business profiles. Businesses should ideally be able to conduct key transactions directly from their Google+ pages. For example, if you sell widgets you should at least be able to allow your customers to order them through your Google+ profile.

But the opportunities here really are endless. In much the same way that Facebook users can use Facebook’s own markup language to build their own pages, it would be fantastic if Google+ allowed businesses to code and integrate their own e-commerce additions. Customers would therefore not have to click away from Google+, and the risk of losing them would be reduced.

Improved mobile apps

Finally, Google needs to work hard on their mobile offerings. While Google+ looks fantastic on Android, its iOS version is little more than a web app. With commerce becoming increasingly mobile, the importance of these apps will only increase – and it is therefore important that Google gets them right.

Read more about Google+ for business.

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