Google may have found a way to challenge not only Facebook, but also LinkedIn: Its new Google+ social network will apparently evolve in a way that allows businesses to build profiles and interact with the public.
"We have a great team of engineers actively building an amazing Google+ experience for businesses, and we will have something to show the world later this year," Christian Oestlien, a group product manager at Google, wrote in a July 6 posting on his Google+ profile page. "The business experience we are creating should far exceed the consumer profile in terms of its usefulness to businesses."
In the meantime, Google is apparently discouraging businesses from using regular Google+ profiles to interact with potential customers. "Our policy team will actively work with profile owners to shut down non-user profiles," Oestlien wrote. "Over the next few months we are going to be running a small experiment with a few marketing partners to see the effect of including brands in the Google+ experience."
That experiment will apparently begin with a small group of partners, and Oestlien made no mention of how it will expand beyond that point. If Google+ as a business tool takes hold, though, it could open another front in Google's battle with Facebook over the social-networking space, and the online ad revenues that come with it.
Businesses have long had a presence on Facebook, and the company recently introduced a few tools that make group collaboration and communication a little easier. During a July 6 presentation at Facebook headquarters, CEO Mark Zuckerberg unveiled a Skype-branded video-chat service, along with a retooled people sidebar (supposedly to make initiating chats easier) and group instant messaging.