Beginning yesterday (27 December 2012), it appears that Google+ has been rolling out to brand Pages the ability to comment on, +1, and re-share posts from personal profiles of people who have not circled them.
This is news because until now brand Pages had no ability to interact with the posts of people who had not first circled them. Pages are still prevented from adding someone to their circles until that person has first circled the Page, but at least they can now interact with a “stranger’s” posts.
An early testing of this was first spotted by popular Google+ user Denis Labelle. Denis alerted Talking Moose Media owner Nikol Murphy, who along with Ronnie Bincer began testing, looking to see if the small test spotted by Denis would be rolled out more widely. As of last evening they were ready to announce that it was indeed being rolled out, and appeared to be a new feature, not a bug.
To confirm, our Virante Search Marketing page on Google+ is now able to comment on and +1 the comments on posts of people who do not (yet) have us in their circles. We’ve found that for now at least, we can only +1 or reshare the post if we first open it in its own tab (by clicking the time stamp on the post). For example, see our comment on this post by Monica Wright, Community Editor at Marketing Land.
Comments from other brand page owners testing this overnight indicate that it appears to be rolling out to US pages first (as is typical for a Google+ update rollout), and that various aspects of it seem to come and go for now for different Pages.
Lifting of this restriction on Pages may have been foreshadowed in the introduction of the Communities feature to Google+ earlier this month, as brand Pages were surprised to find that not only could they create their own Communities, they could also join and interact with others’ Communities even if they had no prior relationship with their owners.
What Does This Mean for Online Marketers?
As might be expected, first reactions, from both personal users and brand Page owners, to this news were mixed. Most Page owners seem to see it as a plus for their ability to expand the reach and potential fan base for their Pages, something most agree was severely hampered by the prior restrictions.
But some users were worried that this change will mean an influx of new spam on their posts.
For example, from popular Hangout On Air host Yifat Coen:
Or this, from regular Google+ user Jay Day:
Obviously there is the potential for both: great benefit to brands who can now reach out to more Google+ users, and also great potential for spam and annoyance for Google+ users used to being protected from unwanted interaction with commercial interests.
What do you think about this move by Google+?
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