Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Google Begins Business Profiles on Google+

Google has begun with Business Profiles on Google+ for those who have Google Apps for Business (the service costs $5 per month to use and you do need to have a website). Being first at bat can have intangible benefits on the internet, including a valuable backlink to your company website from your Google+ profile. Here's how to join this limited group of users and make the most of your Google+ profile before everyone else.
First, you'll need Google Apps for Business - which is definitely useful, but we're just using it to get to your Google+ business profile for now. If your business already has that established, contact your IT administrator about adding Google+ to your account. (You can share this article for reference.)
While Google App users will be busy setting up their Business profile accounts and the rest of us who don’t subscribe to Google Business Apps wait for the global roll out it’s a good time to take a look at the functionality on offer. Remember to choose a strong password unlike your others, since this is for business. If you're already signed in to another Google account, you'll be asked to sign in with your new Google Apps account. Do it.

Regular users of the Google+ network have already become familiar with its easy sharing options, the control over privacy and data and the impromptu video group video conference ability of Hangouts. There are some more features though,

1. The ability to seamlessly create multiple users on one account and allocate specific sharing rights and controls from a central control point.
2. The ability to collaborate across the company group with departments or individuals sharing data.
3. Real-time collaboration across the company network.
4. Analytics integration .
5. Potential to socialise Google Ads.

In addition to all this there is the ability to now talk to potential clients and customers on a one-to-one basis without having to worry about mixing your online business profile with your personal one.

With Google+ offering such an enabled, from a functionality point of view, business profile it will have the ability to allow a seamless multi-media connection with other business in a B2B environment. This will pose a potential threat to LinkedIn whose recent functionality update notwithstanding, is still a lot less interactive when compared to Google+.
The Google development team responsible for the Business Profiles roll out is working feverishly to make sure potential bugs are ironed out fast and the service can go global. In the busy run-up to Christmas the uptake by businesses will probably be sketchy with some rushing in trying to capitalize while some of the bigger ones will probably create a profile but not use it until they can successfully integrate it in their marketing plans. This then looks set to make next year a truly interesting one when it comes to social networking services and their impact on both the way we do business and the way we choose to connect with each other on the web.
Google Apps Dashboard and verification

You'll be taken to your Google Apps Dashboard, which gives an Express or Custom setup option. If you're an IT manager for a larger corporation, this is where we part ways as you run off to Custom land, where you do all the stuff I don't need to tell you how to do.

For the rest of you non-technical types, click Express, then Next. A process will ask you to verify ownership of your domain. If you don't manage your own website, you'll have to send the file off to your design house to be uploaded into the root of your web directory. Copy and paste the information you're given on the verification screen to send to them, and download the required file. Click Verify once the file is uploaded, and you're off to the races.

Set up your apps

Uncheck Gmail on this screen since it's a pain to set up if your hosting provider isn't on the drop down list. Keep Docs and Calendar checked and keep on clicking Next. On the billing screen, click Do This Later unless you really want to give Google money immediately. Choose your mobile devices on the next screen (note Google's "Our Favorite!" next to Android). After this point, keep on clicking Do This Later unless you want to explore the options available to you. You're officially done setting up Google Apps, and now can get to the good stuff.

Set up Google+ on your Google Apps account

Click on the Organization & users tab on your Google Apps Dashboard. Right now, you can only enable Google+ for specific users. Click the users you want to add the services for, then click the Services tab.

Before enabling Google+, you'll need to enable Google Talk and Picasa Web Albums under that services tab. Both are automatically set to be on.

Next, scroll down to Google+ (Pro tip: It will be one of the only services not enabled automatically) and set it to On. Save your changes at the bottom of the page, and you have a shiny new Google+ profile for your business.
Set up your Google+ profile

Go to your Google Calendar or Google Docs page, as long as you've already enabled them in Google Apps. If you're still signed in under your Google Apps for Business user name, you'll see your Google+ profile in the upper right. Click on the spot where a photo should be and hit Create Profile.
Creating a separate profile for your business is preferable if you're in a larger company, since IT admins and others will have access to your Google+ stream. However, if you are a micro-business and already active in Google+ circles, Google is working on a migration tool for you to port your current profile on over to your Google Apps profile.

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