Google Social Network Opens Doors To Businesses

Google Social Network Opens Doors To Businesses

Google Inc's new social networking service has opened its doors to businesses to create special web pages, a move that could entice visitors to spend more time on the website and help Google match the offerings of rival Facebook.

The so-called Google+ Pages allow corporate brands and businesses to set up a special page within Google's social networking service.

Google said that 20 businesses, including Toyota, Pepsi and retailer Macy's, have set up special pages on the Google+ social network, and that any organization will soon be able to join as well.

Until now, only individual users have been able to sign up for Google+. Businesses are increasingly using online social services, such as Facebook, to reach new customers and to cement relationships with loyal customers through special offers and promotions.

Google, the world's No. 1 search engine, has signed up more than 40 million users on Google+ since it introduced the service in late June. But Facebook dominates the social networking market with more than 750 million users.

The new Google+ business pages will be accessible from Google's Web search engine, as well as from within the Google+ social networking service. Google said on Monday that users who type the plus symbol in front of a business' name, such as "+Pepsi," when conducting a search on its search engine, will be directly connected to the business' special Google+ page.

Google said this so-called "direct connect" feature is currently available for a limited number of pages, but that "many more are coming."

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