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By Bizclik Editor

Vodafone, Telstra, National Australia Bank and Google Australia are among the first Australian companies to take advantage of a lifted ban on Google+: company and brand profiles may now be created through the website’s Google+ Pages feature.

Originally, Google+ was created for personal use only; any pages seeming to represent a particular brand or business was immediately taken off the site. But now, with the November launch of “Google+ for Businesses,” big-name companies are rushing to create profiles and start garnering “followers.”

“We’re determined to stay ahead of the curve [so] we can reach out to customers and provide support, in their channel of choice,” NAB’s Chris Smith, General Manager of Digital, said in a statement about the launch.

The arrival of Google+ Pages levels the social media playing field with top rival Facebook, who has featured company pages on its site for some time. Similarly, the new Google microsites will allow businesses to post photos and status updates, but one major advantage Google+ Pages incorporates into its model is its search engine tool.

“[Connecting] social content distribution to some of the most powerful sources of traffic on the web, namely search, [will] be its strongest advantage,” Nathaniel Perez, Global Head of Social Experience for SapientNitro, wrote in a review for Fast Company.

Called “Direct Connect,” users can find a specific company’s page by typing the company name into a search browser with a ‘+’ before it. Type “+Honda Australia” into Google and the first item to pop up is the company’s page, complete with event posts, photos and links to related pages.

Fans of a business’ Google+ page can recommend it to others with a Google-style ‘+1’, add the page to one of their networking “circles,” and share who they’re following via Google+ Ripples.

The potential of Google+ Pages is limitless – let’s not forget the search giant also owns YouTube and Android. We will continue to monitor the site’s progress along with you.

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