Google made Brand Pages available last fall. Much like Facebook Pages, this allowed for companies, organizations, causes and the like to have a customized G+ presence that’s separate from a personal profile.
A properly set-up Page will help your news organization not only connect with users on Google+, but also help your stories and profiles get found more easily in Google searches.
To sign up for a Page, you first need a personal Google+ account to serve as an administrator. You’ll need to be logged in to that account in order to follow the directions to set up a Page. Mashable has a very helpful slideshow walking through the Google+ Brand Page signup steps, if you feel like you need that level of detail. Otherwise…
Setting Up Your Profile
1. Sign up for your Page (only after making sure no one else has set one up for your site already)
2. Choose your category. It is suggested that media sign up as “Products or Brands”, but you might also opt to be a local business. The local business Pages differ in that they tie your G+ page to your newsroom’s location, which could be a bonus if you have public space (like a community media lab at Digital First newspapers).
Note: If you sign up as a local business, you have a few more hoops to jump through. If it gets to be too burdensome, you could always be sure to put your physical address and contact info on your About page.
3. Set up your name and website. You’ll also be asked to pick a sub-category of your main category (above) here. If you signed up as a Brand, you can pick Media, if you signed up as a Local Business, you’ll likely want to pick “Other”.
4. Set up your photo and tagline. The tagline is only 10 words – so be informative and search engine-friendly (i.e. “Local news source for XX, XX and XX” is eight words). The name and tagline shows up in Google searches for your paper’s name and, if you use good keywords, would show up in searches for “‘city name’ news”.
Remember your account photo will show up as a small rectangle apart from your page to your Circles and in Google searches. So, it should be immediately noticeable as a news brand account – so maybe it should be your logo or something similar.
5. Set up your Introduction: Check out the Google search example for the Denver Post (above). The next line of text that shows up after the tagline is from the beginning of the Introduction, which also appears under the About tab when people go to your Google+ Page. Write the beginning with this in mind.
New York Times: “Welcome to NYTG+, The New York Times’s hub on Google+ for news, conversation and community.”
Boston Globe: “The Boston Globe is Boston’s leading newspaper. Our new website is subscription-only, but links from Google+ (as well as other social networks and search engines) provide free access to the article. ”
San Jose Mercury News: “The San Jose Mercury News provides the latest business, sports, entertainment and breaking news in Silicon Valley and beyond.”
In this space, you might also want to add the address and contact info for your news outlet, what you intend to do with the Page, how you’ll moderate comments and ask for feedback on how to use Google+.
6. Add Recommended Links: Here’s where you’ll want to highlight your other social media accounts and some particular work from your staff on your site. Link to your site’s Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest or whatever other social accounts you use here. Feel free to also add links to your most popular site sections, notable staff blogs, big stories or series you’ve published and links to your mobile alert and/or newsletter subscription sign ups.
For a good example, see how the New York Times set up their Intro and Recommended Links.
And with that, you’re all set. Now, let’s get to posting updates and creating Circles.