It was always intended to be thus.
Google announced this week that it was allowing businesses to set up Google+ pages. Although according to the BBC, "Organisations will not be charged to use the scheme and Google says it will not put adverts on their pages", let's be honest Google isn't a charity and at some point there will be some form of monetization of the fact that these non-people entities (as a colleague calls them) have been given consent to be on this new (sort of) social platform.
After an initial bulge in interest, engagement with G+ has quieted down, maybe because, according to a complaint in Slate, "There’s nothing to do on Google+, and every time someone figures out a possible use for it, Google turns out the lights."
At least the first part has been true. But now G+ is trying to turn itself into a creative brand playground, for good or bad depending on your perspective on the desirability of non-commercial social platforms. (That's for another post.)
As my colleague Kathryn wrote in an internal email to our social web team:
Businesses, brands, teams, places, plays and other non-people entities will be able to create a profile on Google’s social network with many of the same built-in features as an ordinary Google+ profile. Plus – and this is very cool – page owners will be able to upload media and participate with users in live events and video chats, called Hangouts, on Google+.
In a later blog post, she pointed out:
What is most interesting is the integration with Google search. Since everyone is Googling everything, it makes perfect sense. Using what Google is calling Direct Connect, when you Google by adding + before a word you now get the brand page option (like in Facebook) and will be asked if you want to add that page to your circle. For example, if I were to write in +Motorola, Google would say ask me if I want to add +Motorola to one of my Google+ circles. What this could lead to is brands using ‘+’ as commonly as they do ‘www.’ or ‘facebook.com/’ in marketing materials (i.e. +MuppetsMovie or facebook.com/Muppets).
Maybe if companies use the platform well - and I do worry they won't given the many false starts on Facebook initially - it might just give G+ the haulage it needs in its battle with Facebook, especially if Google provides back-up like the '+' convention. I won't likely invite any companies into my G+ circles, but enough people seem to like 'liking' brands on Facebook that they may gravitate to this new brand home . . . and stay.