Step-by-step guide to build your Google+ business page

The initial steps are especially important, as companies scramble to get their brands up and running as quickly as possible.

Announced a couple of days ago, Google+ for Business Pages (henceforth G+BP) is now available. With the rollout, let’s look at a few key points:

1. You can’t “circle” individuals unless they “circle” you first. This is a nice change as a consumer, tough on the marketer—it prevents you from mindlessly spam-circling the entire network.

2. G+BP Profiles are exactly like every other profile on Google+. Configure it appropriately, provide lots of data about your business, and you can stuff inbound links into your About section if you want to encourage some click-through. If you’ve got behaviors and practices working well for you personally, do more of the same with G+BP.

3. G+BP for local business is bound to your Google Places data. Make sure that’s appropriately configured first.

4. The G+BP is bound to one personal G+ account only. Before you create it, it’s important to think about who is going to own the business page. Once created, it cannot be transferred, delegated, or shared.

5. The G+BP isn’t unique. Businesses can have multiple pages, so your product manager, for example, could run a G+BP just for his or her product line, while someone else runs the corporate brand.

6. For smaller companies and brands, there is no verification process that certifies your G+BP as yours. This means—for now, anyway—that a competitor theoretically could create a page that’s identical to yours and there wouldn’t be much you could do about it, except complain to Google.

Now, let’s talk about building up your G+BP. Here’s the bottom line: In order to keep the experience of Google+ sane for the consumer end user, businesses have a severely limited set of outreach tools. This is a good thing and a smart move by Google to keep misbehavior to a minimum.

One of the few outreach tools available to G+BP owners is the ability to promote your G+BP to the personal owner’s audience. Logically, pick the employee at your company who already has the largest following on Google+ and have him or her own and promote your G+BP to jump-start your presence.

From there, hit your standard new social network recipe card to build momentum. What, you didn’t get that card in your social media cookbook? OK, here’s mine. Return it when you’re done, and try not to get coleslaw all over it.

1. Put up all your content first. Have something of value out there; put in place all the basics, such as photos, etc.

2. Set up a short URL or redirect that’s memorable, because Google+ doesn’t allow for customized URLs. That will be easier for employees and evangelists to share. For example, I have cspenn.com/g for my page. For the company page, I set up whatcounts.com/gplus.

3. Link up your G+BP on your website using the Badge Maker so that you get the benefit of the rel=publisher tag and make yourself eligible for Google Direct Connect. If there’s going to be a true domain-name style land grab, it will be around Direct Connect, so don’t skip this step.

4. Ask your employee base to promote your G+BP to their networks. This is doubly easy if your employees are using Google+ for Apps, because you can just send an all-system email. If they’re already on Google+, they should “circle” the company page first.

5. Hit your mailing list. This should be a no-brainer, but it’s amazing how often we overlook this step. To get your initial seed momentum going, hit your list.

6. Cross-promote on all your other networks. Again, an often overlooked no-brainer.

With this short recipe card, you should be able to get up and running with your new Google+ for Business Page(s). Everything that happens after this is up to you.

Christopher S. Penn is the director of strategy at WhatCounts and author of the bestselling Marketing White Belt book. He blogs at ChristopherSPenn.com where a version of this post originally ran.

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