After several months of anticipation, Google finally announced Google+ Pages for local businesses, groups, sports, brands, organizations and more. Just a few weeks ago Google granted its Apps customers access to the social network, slowly growing its user base.
After yesterday's announcement, users flocked to create a Google+ Page for their business, but many were disappointed with what they saw. Google+ Pages bear a significant resemblance to personal Google+ pages--in fact, there are very few differences and few features that users expected to see.
Here's a rundown of what you and your business should know about Google+ Pages, and how to remedy problems you may have already encountered.
1. Claim your organization's Google+ Page ASAP
When Google opened the flood gates to businesses and organizations yesterday, there was a rush to lay claim to brand names. One flaw in the sign-up page for Google+ Pages was the lack of verification required to set up an account.
When you start the process of creating a page for a product or brand, for example, you only need to enter what you want the page to be called, the website you want to associate with the page, the category and who will be able to see your page.
If your business is actively involved in social media or you think it may want a Google+ Page in the future, it's a good idea to claim your business's name to prevent squatters from holding on to it.
2. Log out of your personal Gmail account before creating a Google+ Page.
One mistake Google+ users made yesterday was following the link to create a Google+ Page for their business while still logged into a personal Google account. As a result, the brand pages were automatically linked to their personal Google+ account, which means they have to toggle between their own and the company's, depending on what they want to post.
For some people--like those who don't want the company account linked to their own--this is problematic. It appears the only way to fix it is to delete the account, then reregister it under a new Google account that you create specifically for the brand.
For others, though, this could be useful, especially if the person registering the company account is the one who will be posting to it.
3. Be careful when switching between linked accounts.
If you were someone who, either accidentally or purposely, linked a Google+ Page to your own personal account, always be aware of which account you're posting to.
Several weeks ago, a Google employee made headlines when he accidentally posted a rant about Google+ publicly, instead of to his Circles It is always important to be aware of what you're posting and to whom; this latest example is an especially timely reminder now that Google+ Pages have launched.
When you switch between accounts, Google+ does show you a banner notification at the top that reads, You are now using Google+ as this page. Your posts, comments, and notifications will be from this page. And while you do need to click "Ok" to make it disappear, it can be easy to miss.
4. You can't add additional administrators...yet.
One feature that's clearly missing in the launch of Google+ Pages is the ability to add multiple administrators to a company's account. As it stands, only one person can access and post to the Google+ Page through the Google account that created it.
While this certainly isn't ideal, there is an easy workaround. For example, businesses can disseminate the account's username and password to those who require access to it, such as the marketing department or customer service representatives. Clunky, but it works for now.
Allowing multiple administrators access to a Google+ Page seems like it should have been a feature rolled out in its first iteration of Pages. Hopefully, though, Google will include this feature in its next update.
5. Google+ Pages do not allow contests or promotions.
Google's "Terms and Conditions" page says that Google+ Pages are not allowed to run contests, sweepstakes, offers, coupons or other promotions directly on the Google+ Page. Instead, Pages can display a link to a separate site where the promotion is hosted, as long as you are in compliance with a number of terms.
Kristin Burnham covers consumer technology, social networking and Web 2.0 for CIO.com. Follow Kristin on Twitter @kmburnham. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline and on Facebook. Email Kristin at email@example.com
This story, "Google+ Pages: 5 things you need to know before signing up" was originally published by CIO.