When Google+ launched, companies were at a loss trying to find a way to utilize the new social network for business. But with this week's launch of Google+ business pages (including HubSpot's own Google+ page!), we've seen some early adopters start experimenting with the possibilities and limitations of the new feature. Some just dipped their toes in the water; others dove in headfirst. Let's take a look at a few of the companies that are already getting creative with Google+ business pages.
Fox News Special Report
We all saw the huge role of social media in President Obama's campaign and election in 2008, and it looks like the GOP is following suit by experimenting with the Google+ business page Hangout feature. Starting November 15, Special Report on Fox News will be hosting a series of Google+ Hangouts with GOP presidential candidates, starting with Governor Mitt Romney. Although only 10 people can actively participate in a Hangout, there’s no limit to the number of Hangout viewers (Note: This feature, called Hangouts on Air, is currently only available to certain businesses. Google+ has not yet indicated when it will be available to all.). To determine who gets to participate, they’ve asked followers to leave comments detailing what they would ask Governor Romney, and why they should be selected to chat in the Hangout.
What you can learn from Special Report: Google+ Hangouts present a lower barrier to entry than something like a webinar, so regardless of your business, they could help you open up and feed the top of your sales funnel. Experiment with hosting informational, interactive, and industry-specific Hangout sessions on your own Google+ business page (and keep your fingers crossed that Google+ will enable Hangouts on Air for all businesses soon!).
In the short time Google+ business pages have been available, Time has already figured out a way to take its features to the next level. Because Time knows it has an audience with diverse interests, it's testing topic Circles tailored to different subject matters. The first Circle it's testing is Technology, with the hopes that tech followers will be able to easily identify stories they care about, rather than be inundated with other content that's of little interest.
What you can learn from Time: While Google+ business page features are limited right now, it's crucial to experiment with them and find a creative way to make your follower's experience more meaningful. By customizing your Google+ Page to fit your audience, you'll have a more user-friendly page and be better able to provide followers with content they care about. Consider testing out your own topic Circles to help you deliver relevant content to segmented groups within your business' target audience.
You'd better believe YouTube has a Google+ Page, and though many page owners are already asking for more robust YouTube-Google+ integration, it hasn't stopped the online video sharing giant from making good use of the embedded video functionality, allowing followers to watch, comment on, and share video without leaving the page. The first video YouTube shared on its page was fittingly the first video ever uploaded to YouTube, a great move to get new followers excited about the YouTube experience. And they're not just sharing videos; they've syndicated their blog content for the Google+ business page, too, bringing a microblogging feel over to the new social network.
What you can learn from YouTube: Take your new and popular content and find a new audience for it over at your Google+ business pages. Likewise, Google+ Pages should act just like Facebook and Twitter—as another place to get leads by introducing your followers to new content you create with killer calls-to-action.
The New York Times
In October, the earth's population surpassed 7 billion, and The New York Times is using its Google+ business page to source photos for its latest crowdsourcing project "Picturing 7 Billion." Aside from it being a cool project, it serves as an example of a company customizing its page based on follower feedback, who said they were looking for international news and photos on the Google+ business page. The Times also broke ground on the legal front by successfully offering a subscription discount to followers, even amid confusion regarding Google+ restrictions on contests and offers.
What you can learn from the New York Times: As you experiment with this new social network, don't be afraid to try new things. Just be sure you refine your approach as you receive more feedback from followers and begin to understand what posts are most successful. Google+ business pages are still new, so the sooner you start experimenting (and maybe messing up), the sooner you'll know how to make the features on Google+ business pages work for you.
What creative ways have you seen companies using Google+ for business?