In an official blog post the internet giant explained the decision as a natural part of the social network’s evolution:
“So far Google+ has focused on connecting people with other people. But we want to make sure you can build relationships with all the things you care about—from local businesses to global brands—so today we’re rolling out Google+ Pages worldwide.”
Since opening up to the public, Google+ has attracted over 40-million users who, up until now, have all been private individuals.
The goal of the social network, Google says, remains one of allowing people to share their real-life experiences online.
Brands, it says, are no exception to this: “After all: behind every page (or storefront, or four-door sedan) is a passionate group of individuals, and we think you should able to connect with them too.”
A number of the features, such as hangouts, which make Google+ so revolutionary have made their way onto the new pages offering.
According to the internet giant, this means, “we can now hang out live with the local bike shop, or discuss our wardrobe with a favorite clothing line, or follow a band on tour”.
Google claims that for businesses and brands, Google+’s features mean that they can have more than a mere presence on the social network.
People will be able to recommend a brand with a +1, or add them to a circle “to listen long term”.
A number of high-profile brands, businesses and organisations have already made pages for themselves.
Given Google’s eventual aim of integrating all its products it’s unsurprising that people won’t only be able to add pages to their circles from within Google+.
People will also be able to do so from the feature Google calls “Direct Connect”.
The principle behind it, as Google explains is relatively simple:
Maybe you’re watching a movie trailer, or you just heard that your favorite band is coming to town. In both cases you want to connect with them right now, and Direct Connect makes it easy—even automatic. Just go to Google and search for [+], followed by the page you’re interested in (like +Angry Birds). We’ll take you to their Google+ page, and if you want, we’ll add them to your circles.
At present, the function only works for a limited number of brands, including +Google, +Pepsi, and +Toyota but, according to Google, “many more are coming”.
While Google is welcoming brands onto its social network, companies will still be unable to advertise directly on Google+ as they can with the main competitor in the space, Facebook.
A number of critics, including a senior member of the Google community have previously slated Google+ for trying to ape the Facebook model.
Google Senior Vice President of Engineering Vic Gundotra, reference poet Robert Frost as he reiterated that the company’s goal with Google+ is to “bring the nuance and richness of real-life sharing to software. Today’s initial launch of Google+ Pages brings us a little bit closer, but we’ve still got lots of improvements planned, and miles to go before we sleep.”