Google Plus is here…as long as you are human. Right now, it reminds me of Facebook about three years ago: great for people but not for businesses. Back then, most companies simply created a Facebook profile, which later became frowned upon as fan pages were labeled as the way for organizations to properly represent themselves. It was a hard transition for those who had worked hard to gain “friends” only to hit a 5,000 friend limit, get frustrated, and then realize the only way up was to start all over with a page instead.
The Google Plus team is aware of the lack of tools for businesses. On the official project blog, Chris Oestlien admitted that:
We have been watching Google+ take shape over the last week and we’ve seen some really great companies get involved. But frankly we know our product as it stands is not optimally suited to their needs. In fact, it was kind of an awkward moment for us when we asked Ford for his (or was it her?) gender!
So, what should you do? Create a profile for your resort? Wait? Here’s what Christian said:
The business experience we are creating should far exceed the consumer profile in terms of its usefulness to businesses. We just ask for your patience while we build it. In the meantime, we are discouraging businesses from using regular profiles to connect with Google+ users. Our policy team will actively work with profile owners to shut down non-user profiles.
So where does that leave ski resorts? Looks like there are three options.
1) Create a Profile Anyway
Just because the policy team may shut you down doesn’t totally dissuade me from thinking that creating a profile for you business is a bad idea. I’m not sure the best way to swing it, but Mammoth Mountain creating a Google Plus profile for their mascot Wooly might be a way to strike a balance. Just be aware that if you do create a resort profile, you do so at your own risk. They may shut you down and/or you may have to start over when they launch profiles for businesses.
2) Apply for an Entity Profile
As Google tests out business entity profiles, they obviously need people to take ‘er for a test drive. You can apply to become one of these test business by clicking on the following like and filling out the application – http://goo.gl/zq95C. It’s interesting to note that in that application they ask you if you have already created a profile for your entity.
3) Wait it Out
Finally, the unglamorous option: waiting. Patience is a virtue but also a recommendation for businesses and Google Plus. Some users are even starting to suggest how Google should design it. If I were you, I’d snag an invite (if you need one, let me know), get your personal account setup, and start exploring. Take some time to tinker with as many features in as many ways that you can. That way, when the door is opened for businesses, you can hit the ground running and have a head start.
One final note is it will be interesting to see how they handle the TOS for entity profiles compared to personal profiles. For now, if you share a photo on Google Plus, you basically forfeit all rights to that image. Hopefully some changes are made when they let businesses in to protect those rights.