Ford Motor Co. has established a corporate presence on Google+, evidently securing a place in a test of how Google's social network site will extend beyond individuals.
The Ford Google+ site had 1,222 followers on Saturday morning and featured posts such as a photo caption contest, a question about what people would like to see out of Ford on Google+, and promotion of a live chat with Ford's director of marketing communications--with a Google+ video-chat hangout afterward.
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The corporate presence is a rarity on Google+. Google has been deleting other corporate accounts, saying Google+ today is optimized for individuals. It plans to release the corporate version of Google+ later this year, but in the meantime is testing its ideas for how it should work.
It's no surprise Google would want to add such a feature, especially given the fierce demand for Google+ membership right now. Facebook pages and corporate Twitter accounts are a fixture of the social marketing world, and Google needs to match those if it wants a competitive offering. Social networking is a hot topic today for businesses that want new ways of boosting sales, promoting their brand names, and engaging with customers.
Facebook today is the dominant social network, and it's gone as far as suggesting that Facebook pages could replace company Web sites. That seems an unlikely outcome for many, but there's no doubt that a social network presence is increasingly common.
Google+ is in a mostly closed beta, though Google has fleetingly added an invitation button, and Google+ members can invite their contacts by sending them an e-mail from the service.
Through another partnership, Google Maps users can send navigation instructions to some Ford cars through the Ford Sync service.