Local publishers dip toes into Google+ Pages

Today, Google announced Currents, an app for use in the United States, which allows users to create their own news delivery system for mobile devices. For users on the other end — say, local news providers — Google is offering open source software that makes it easy to create a mobile publication.

Local publishers are gingerly dipping their toes into Google+ Pages for Brands. The pages — adorned in come-hither baubles of Hangouts, Circles and Currents — don’t lack sex appeal but they do lack a direct revenue connection.

Google unveiled the Pages for Brands,- i.e. for entities that are not people,  on Nov.7,  and within days major media outlets had set up their pages  and were joining, passing along and growing their circles of colleagues. Some Newspaper folks gained thousands of followers in a single day during the mass media circle  around. The local online publishing world is taking a more cautious approach and biding their time –  arguably they have  less of it to spend.

“We have a clearly defined role for Facebook and a clearly defined roll for Twitter, “ says Patrick Boylan, Publisher of the Welles Park Bulldog. “But we are still trying to determine that role for Google+.”

If you can get past the glitchy drop-downs that help you define your organization’s page, the Google+ Page is pretty simple to set up. But the glitches can be show stoppers.

“You have to put in a date for showing how old your organization is,“ says Kate Giammarise, a founder along with Angie Schmitt of RustWire, which reports on urban planning and issues. For some reason, “ Google+ thought we were  a person. I put our birthday in as 2009.” Google then blocked RustWire’s account, thinking they were underage.

“Once I got past that, setting it up wasn’t the hard part,” she says.

Rustwire already socializes on Facebook, Twitter,  Flickr and Tumblr and now they’ve added Google+.

“We definitely do all the social media stuff that we are supposed to do, “ Giammarise says.

Giammarise says she’s done a thorough search on Google+ for other urban planning organizations that might be interested in their news. “I have been having trouble finding readers and other organizations that I thought would be interested in what we do. Maybe they are on there and I am not finding them,” she says. “I feel like maybe our readers will be there some day so we might has well set it up.”

Individuals can join the  Google+ social network by setting up a simple profile associated with their gmail account. From there you can join group video chats called hangouts, create circles of colleagues or friends, view updates and how they are amplified through “ripples” and play with a lot of other shiny new toys. These features also include  “plussing” a product, article or entity that you like and seeing the recommendations of your friends appear when you are signed into Google.

Once your profile is filled, if you want to promote an entity, the  next step is is to set up a page. Look for the button on the stage left  side of your Google+ home.

The trickiest part of the process of creating a business page is making sure that you have selected the right category for what you are. Investigate thoroughly before selecting. It might make sense for affinity communities – like online news publishers — to create recommended settings. That might make it easier to find colleagues in the new Google+ pages Directory.

Also, in its zeal to discourage fakes, Google is taking a hard line related to its business page administrators. At this time, there can only be one administrator and he or she cannot be changed. This is one those things that Google will have to change once the dust has settled. For that reason, RustWire has created a Gmail address that can be passed to a new admin when necessary.

Other features including Picasa albums, integration with Google email and contacts, maps and other popular free Google tools.  It also launched the Creative Sandbox, which lets you  express a little bit of the google doodle in your own photos

A few resources:

The official Google blog.

The official launch page for Google+ Brand Pages.

An emerging resource is the G+ Business pages directory.

The gem among all these riches is the Google+ Your Business  resource page, where Google is sharing best practices among brand pages. If you’re digging for gold or trying to understand the tools that are available and how they might serve you, start here. Google calls it “The official page for businesses using Google+ to connect with their customers.”

Sally Duros is a social journalist working toward the next generation of successful, credible online newsrooms. Connect with her on  and on twitter at saduros..

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