Google+ says it has fumbled business pages; blogs unhappy
After pulling the plug on Google+ pages set up for businesses on Thursday, Google laid out some details (and a bit of regret) on what it has done so far and hopes to do next to get companies, nonprofits, bands and other entities into the social network as soon as possible.
Almost two weeks ago, Google asked businesses eager to get started on Google+ to stay out of the fledgling social network. The reason? Google said current Google+ pages were designed for people to network, not companies or other groups.
The tech giant promised that it would roll out pages for businesses and other entities later in the year and began taking applications from groups interested in trying out test versions of such pages.
But the response to Google's call for business-page testing partners was more enthusiastic then even the Mountain View, Calif., company expected, and now Google is working to speed up the process and get its act together faster.
With so many qualified candidates expressing intense interest in business profiles, we've been thinking hard about how to handle this process. Your enthusiasm obligates us to do more to get businesses involved in Google+ in the right way, and we have to do it faster. As a result, we have refocused a few priorities and we expect to have an initial version of businesses profiles up and running for EVERYONE in the next few months. There may be a tiny handful business profiles that will remain in the meantime solely for the purpose of testing how businesses interact with consumers.
Oestlien also reiterated his call to businesses to stay out of Google+ until Google has a proper offering.
Doing it right is worth the wait. We will continue to disable business profiles using regular profiles. We recommend you find a real person who is willing to represent your organization on Google+ using a real profile as him-or-herself.
In an interview with the website TechCrunch, Vic Gundotra, who is leading the Google+ project, said that the company has dropped the ball on this aspect of building a social network so far.
"We underestimated the rate at which we were going to grow," Gundotra told Alexis Tsotsis of TechCrunch in an interview. "So if we had known that we were going to be this attractive to people who want audiences, we would have probably prioritized some of the brand work earlier. So, in that sense, looking back in hindsight, uh, it was probably a mistake. And if anyone is to take blame for that, it's me. And we're working to correct that."
Tsotis took Gundotra, and Google+ Product Manager Bradley Horowitz, to task in the interview for what many at TechCrunch and other blogs believe has been unfair treatment of certain brands that broke Google's rules on Google+.
For example, after Google directed all business pages to be switched over to a person from a company or they'd be deleted, TechCrunch created a profile for a fake person it called Techathew Cruncherin. Google removed Tecathew's page. The blog Search Engine Land, as well as Ford and Sesame Street, each had Google+ pages (not named after fake people) and those were deleted too.
The blog Mashable also had a page with more than 109,000 followers, but that page remains in action because it was transferred in name to the site's CEO, Pete Cashmore. But Cashmore already had a personal profile page of his own, with 40,000 followers, which he's now ditching to run the new personal page.
The moves have left some in the tech blogging community feeling burned, so much so that Danny Sullivan, editor of Search Engine Land, wrote an open letter to Google about the ordeal. He argued that all business pages should be restored or all should be wiped out, writing:
I know you have great plans to have super wonderful business profiles eventually. But if you're going to only let a "tiny" number of businesses operate before that, then you taint them and yourselves with favoritism.
At least when you announced applications for business profiles, there was a sense that anyone interested would have some type of a fair shot. Now that's gone.
Don't try to put the genie back in the bottle. Restore the business profiles you have closed. Drop the rule you silently added that blocks business profiles. Let businesses use profiles here just as regular people do. Works just fine on Twitter. Then upgrade those accounts when you're ready.
If you're really into doing things right, that's what you should do. Otherwise, you're just further doing it wrong.
Google didn't follow Sullivan's suggestion, so he wrote a follow-up statement on Google+:
The experience has led me to think that ironically, Google+ is perhaps the worse place to talk about issues with Google. The posts people seem to like are "Hey, check out today's cool logo" or nice pictures or cheerleading for Google+.
I think that's kind of sad, especially when there are so many people who actually work for Google who read what's on Google+. Today's experience has just given me a personal chilling effect that I have never, ever felt with Twitter or Facebook. And I'd have never, ever expected that to be the case with a Google social network.
-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles