Both Facebook and Google+ rolled out changes last week, though they did so in strikingly different ways.
Facebook held a highly publicized press event, in which its executives—including CEO Mark Zuckerberg—took to a stage and explained the updates. Google+ published a short blog post
about its changes written by a product manager.
Zuckerberg and his cohorts earned tons of press, as prognosticators considered the cultural implications of the company’s update to its news feed. Google+ was a footnote on tech blogs.
RELATED: What Facebook's news feed changes mean for brands
Despite a report
from January that said Google+ is the second largest social network globally, Facebook continues to dwarf its competition, drawing roughly twice the number of active monthly users.
Despite the lopsided rollouts and numbers, Google+’s changes, which affect both brand pages and personal profiles, are important to companies that invest time and resources in the social network. The updates will roll out gradually; to see if your page has received the update, click here
Meanwhile, here’s what brands need to know about the changes:
Much larger cover photo
The most noticeable change to Google+ focuses on images—one very large image, in fact. The social network increased the size of its cover photo, which is the picture that sits atop a person’s Google+ profile. The original size was 940 pixels by 180 pixels; it is now 2120 by 1192 and displays in 16x9. In other words, it’s huge.
“This way more images can be used as cover photos, and there’s more room for your selection to shine,” said Google+ product manager Sara McKinley.
The much larger image opens a door for brands, according to the digital firm Simply Zesty. Writing for the firm’s blog, Quinton O’Reilly explained
“There is one very important advantage to having it this size. Unlike Facebook, Google has no strict rules or regulations in regards to placing a call to action on your cover photo so the extra real estate gives you a perfect opportunity to do this.
“Unless you have a designer on hand on a regular basis, you’re not going to be able to change it regularly so you will need your call to action to be a medium or long-term … such as ‘circle us’ or even list what you can offer.”
O’Reilly offered a few examples of major brands that have already shifted their pages to the much larger profile pic, among them is Red Bull
Easy-breezy About page
The Google+ About page, which offers biographical information on the user, whether that’s a person or a business, had been confusing for some.
“Previously the About page was an odd tangle of editable boxes, and it wasn't always clear what information was private or public,” ReadWrite
’s Taylor Hatmaker said
The latest update addressed this concern, making it easier to edit these boxes, which contain information such as education and work. They are also displayed in a more asthetically pleasing way. According to Google+’s Sara McKinley, the site’s users can continue to share specific fields with specific circles, or keep them private.
For brands, the About section is broken up cleanly into five sections: People, Story, Contact Information, Links, and Community. Quinton O’Reilly advised brand managers to add links in the story section to help boost search results on Google.
He also noted:
“A minor, but nice change is if you’re managing multiple accounts, you can open a dashboard section on pages. Here you can see the number of followers you have, when you posted last and the ability to switch pages.”
Along with the changes that affect brand pages, Google added a new tab titled “reviews” to profiles. Under this tab, Google+ users can share their reviews of restaurants. They can also hide this tab. Here's a look the newly update profile for individual users: