So yeah, Google Plus has brand pages now. Awesome.
Will they take over Facebook? Probably not. Will brands try and use Google Plus in the exact same way that they use Facebook? I would guarantee it. What Google Plus brand pages will do, however, is force marketers to step up their game. How is that?
You Don't Come to Customers...They Come to You
Instead of seeking out customers to add to your circles in the same way that you could from a personal profile page, brand pages can only circle people who circle them. Brands can't go out and troll G+, circling a massive amount of people in a shoddy attempt to raise awareness. Only people who physically opt-in can really connect with you.
In addition, brand pages are given two forms of public affirmation: the +1 button and being circled by a user. This initially seemed like an oversight to me on Google's part. Why confuse people with two ways of connecting with a brand? I then saw that this wasn't an accident but something very intentional. The +1 button is the equivalent of what Facebook's Like button was in the early days. A way of someone saying "I approve of this brand" and not a "I want to opt into this brand's messaging." The +1 button is just a way of giving a thumbs up to a brand without the burden of opt-in for the user. In order for the user to opt-in, they have to choose to circle you.
No Promotions....No Easy Street for Acquisition
Right out of the gate, Google is not allowing promotions or contests on their brand pages. This makes anyone who has a vested interest in fan acquisition really take a step back. Contests and giveaways, while effective to a point, have far too often been used as a marketing "easy-way-out" to jack up numbers and say "hey we did something."
However, this new rule will force us as marketers to not be able to use contests as a way to attract people. It will take meaningful interaction and a heavy emphasis on exclusive content to attract people to opt-in to your brand's updates. For anyone who has legitimately valued engagement in social from the beginning, this won't be a huge stretch for changing habits. For many others, this will force them to re-think their approach to online "relationship" marketing.
Google's approach to brand pages will force brands to take a more human approach and really zero in on meaningful and relevant content without Like-gating other things. There will be more challenges and probably more money spent on AdWords with brands trying to drive people to their G+ pages (smart thinking, Google). As marketers, we'll have to create things so compelling for brand pages that people will feel like they have no choice but to subscribe.
In a nutshell, I believe G+ brand pages will force brands to become more human and interact with people and not follower counts.
Then again, this whole Google+ thing could dry up as time goes on as everyone shifts back to Facebook when the hype dies down.
What do you think?