Google has opened Google+ social network for business, initially for a select few companies only.
Google says its new business pages are designed to help businesses have more interaction and even face-to-face time with their customers. While the program isn't yet open for anyone to join, Google is promoting several businesses and organisations that have already signed on and created their own pages such as the Dallas Cowboys, Pepsi, Toyota and, yes, the Muppets.
So what perks await businesses that take the plunge and start their own Google+ pages? For one there's the obvious advantage of having your customers recommend you to their friends by giving you a "+1" on your page. You can also have more direct face-to-face interaction with your customers by scheduling hangouts where you live-videochat with them and answer questions. Google promoted this particular feature by having an inaugural hangout with Kermit and Miss Piggy for Muppets fans to join.
And of course, Google has added a key search component to this whole scheme: If you do a search with the "+" symbol as the prefix and the company name you're looking for, Google will take you right to their Google+ page so you can add them to your circles. While this feature only works for a limited number of pages right now, Google will be expanding it to the business community at large in coming months.
The addition of Google+ pages to Google's search engine could further fuel controversy about Google utilising its immense power as a search engine to favour its own secondary services in its search results over those of its competitors. Google Chairman Eric Schmidt recently appeared before the US Senate Judiciary Committee to deny that his company wielded its market power inappropriately.