Google+'s Business Pages fall short against Facebook's

Google+'s inflexible platform and lack of integration with other Google services prove an Achilles' heel for newly minted Business Pages

At long last, Google+ has rolled out Business Pages, but at first blush, it's tough to figure out the rationale behind the timing. Ideally, organizations should have been able to pimp their brands on the site the day the social network left beta (if not sooner), yet this wasn't the case. An optimistic observer might have thought, "Well, Google must be cooking up something interesting and innovative for businesses, something to give Facebook a real run for its money."

Well, "interesting" and "innovative" aren't particularly apt descriptors for the Google+ business pages. They aren't distinguishable from plain ol' Google+ user pages in any meaningful way. Alas, it looks like Google is paying the price for building a siloed, inflexible social networking platform that's seemingly incapable of integrating with the company's own wealth of apps and services, not to mention third-party programs. Thus, Business Pages offer little in the way of engaging or useful information for users -- and no real reason to linger.

Comparing, for example, WWE's (World Wrestling Entertainment) brand-new Google+ business page to its Facebook business page clearly illustrates why Facebook is continually laying the smackdown on its upstart rival. The reigning champ is built on a flexible, adaptable platform that makes it easy not just for Facebook but for developers and users to tailor the end-user experience as they see it.

Let's start with WWE's Google+ business page. It's certainly, in Google fashion, a clean, uncluttered page, with the company name and choice images prominently displayed at the top. As a user, you can scan down the list of posts (breaking news about shows as well as links to recent footage). You can comment on those posts. You can share the posts. You can add WWE to your preferred Circle, as you would with Google+ users. You can block WWE -- all pretty basic.

Google+'s Business Pages fall short against Facebook's

Clicking About gives you basic text about the company, along with some links to WWE pages on YouTube, Hulu, Twitter, and (amusingly) Facebook. Otherwise, there's not much of use or interest. This About section might have been a good place to integrate information from Google Places or Google Maps, or perhaps to pull in details about upcoming WWE shows, all personalized to a Google+ user's location. The same could be said for the Google+ Macy's page. Ideally, a user could easily find info about local stores and promotions through the Google+ Macy's page, but no dice.

The Photos section presents you with the same basic options you get when accessing a Google+ user's photos: You can choose an album, then open a specific picture, which, in turn, takes you to an album page with a stark black background. There's also a Video option and the Google+ hangout feature, which is effectively live group chat that supports a webcam. Nevertheless, compared to Facebook, Google+ offers very little opportunity for businesses to engage with their customers, or vice versa.

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