Google races to create business version of Google+

Companies will have until Friday to take part in testing for a business version of Google's new social networking offering

Google has picked up the pace in its efforts to get a business version of Google+ up and running.

The company said in a Google+ blog post early Thursday that the cutoff for companies to take part in a Google+ test for businesses is Friday at 9 p.m. EDT. Google will then select and notify the businesses that will participate in the trial next week, according to Christian Oestlien , a developer on the Google + project.

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Businesses can sign up for the trial on Google's site , but the site has been so busy it may take several tries to get through.

The news comes less than a week after Google initially said it probably wouldn't have a business version of Google+ ready until late this year.

Oestlien wrote in another post last week that Google+ wasn't ready for business use and he asked companies to refrain from setting up profiles of their companies until the site is ready for them.

Oestlien also announced that Google will be running tests with a small group of businesses and brands. The company wants to see how users interact with the social networking site's Circles, as well as its news stream functions.

But Google seems to be accelerating its efforts.

"To the thousands upon thousands of businesses that applied to be a part: THANK YOU!" wrote Oestlien, adding that Google plans to select a diverse group of businesses next week. "We won't be able to accommodate everyone, but your interest has got us very focused on accelerating our development plans.... We will be communicating with these [new] partners next week, and will let the world know who they are soon thereafter."

But if a business isn't part of the trial, Google doesn't want its profile on Google+ and it will be pulled down.

"Please note that we are still actively closing profiles that are being used by businesses today," Oestlien wrote. "Stay engaged on Google+ with your personal account and continue to send us your excellent feedback. We'll continue to be very proactive in communicating with everyone around our plans for businesses."

Despite Google's pleas, business brands are still showing up on Google+, and some of them are getting a lot of attention.

Ford Motor Company said it's "experimenting" with Google+ and has asked users how they'd like to interact with the company on the new social site.

And PBS's famed Sesame Street also has its brand on Google+, with the Muppet character Count von Count saying "Good morning" to users.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed. Her email address is Read more about enterprise web 2.0/collaboration in Computerworld's Enterprise Web 2.0/Collaboration Topic Center.

This story, "Google races to create business version of Google+" was originally published by Computerworld.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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