In answer to two of the biggest criticisms of Google+ so far, the social network has opened up to Google Apps users and now allows brands to create Google+ Pages.
The inability of Google Apps users, those who use the service on their own domains to create custom email address (firstname.lastname@example.org), was a sticking point from the very beginning of the service as only users with @gmail addresses were permitted to create Google+ profiles. Because Google+ would recognize the Google Apps cookie but simply display a message that accounts were not available for Google Apps, users would have to switch accounts from their Google Apps account to a regular gmail account. Not a very smooth or user friendly experience.
That’s all changed. When logged in under a Google Apps account, users are prompted to create a public Google+ profile. However, this actually presents more of an issue to most users than it does to solve one. If a user created a regular profile using a Gmail address, there’s no way to merge the two accounts, only transfer the information from one account to another (rumor has it that the ability to merge accounts is coming a few weeks, but nothing definitive on that front yet). For early adopters and power users, who would already have accounts under a Gmail address, having access via Google Apps actually creates a quandary: Keep what they have or transfer all of their information to a new account. For most, it will be more trouble than it’s worth.
The other major announcement for the search giant came this week in the form of Google+ Pages, a way for brands to create profiles that customers and fans can add to their circles. Similar to Facebook Pages, the Google+ Pages will look the same as regular profiles except for a small icon that denotes its Page status.
Google’s launch partners for Google+ Pages included Angry Birds, CNN, Fox News, the Muppets, the Dallas Cowboys, Pepsi, Toyota, Macy’s, X Games, WWE, Train, Barcelona Football Club and Save the Children.
When Google+ first launched, brands jumped on the opportunity to create profiles but were informed by Google to cease doing so and that a solution for brands was in the works. Google then aggressively took down profiles not linked to actual people. This is that promised solution and definitely brings Google+ closer to Facebook in terms of brand to consumer engagement.