While businesses are clamoring to get their pages up on Google+, here is a piece of news from the fine print. You cannot hold contests or direct promotions on your business page.
Whether it is brands, products, companies, groups, they are prohibited by Google+’s Policies to hold any sort of contests on their platform. A look at the Google’s Google+ Pages Contest and Promotion Policies section, will tell you very clearly the huge 'don't' that has been placed before holding contests, sweepstakes, offers, coupons or similar promotions. The only 'do' is to post a link on the Google+ page that will take users to a different site hosting the promotions.
Not only this, the Additional Terms of Service states that Google has the right to block or even remove business pages that are found violating these terms. They will be stringent enough to suspend a user's account in case of a repeat violation. Also the pages dormant for more than nine months, will be automatically removed by Google+.
Here is the official Google view “You release Google from any liability associated with your Promotion and you agree to defend, indemnify and hold harmless Google, its parent corporation, affiliates, officers, directors, employees and agents, from and against any and all claims, damages, obligations, losses, liabilities, costs or debt, and expenses (including but not limited to attorney’s fees) arising from:
- your use of and access to Google+ Pages for your Promotion.
- your violation of any term of these policies.
- any violation within your Promotion of any third party right, including without limitation any copyright, property, or privacy right.
- any claim from any third party relating to or arising from your Promotion.
- any claim that your Promotion violates any law, rule or regulation.
This defense and indemnification obligation will survive the termination of the service, changes to these policies and your use of Google+ Pages.”
Why Has Google Taken This Step?
Google is pretty clear it wants nothing to do with liabilities of hosting contests. One reason the Google has taken this stand is that it wants top avoid spam and potential fraud contests that would be associated with the network.
It can also be seen as a move to be differentiate it self from Facebook, which allows businesses to run contests while following set guidelines and using certain apps. But this has led to many pages 'bribing' people (giveaways and free gifts) to 'LIKE' their pages. Maybe Google wants to avoid the same when it comes to 'Add To Circles' or '+1ing' a page.
Marketers are on Google+ for promoting their products, and Google knows this, so may be it wants a more genuine bond between a brand and its followers rather than a bond from bribery. Many pages on Facebook have thousands of fans that never came back to the page. It is a possibility that Google wants a real and accurate business and fan relationship.
Another fact is that since Google+ activity and +1es will affect the rankings in search, that is why Google is making sure that the activities and +1ing on Google+ remain authentic.
What Should Marketers Do?
The first advise- be cautious and take it slowly. At present Google seems firm on removing pages and suspending accounts. Maybe later, it changes its stance. But as of now, lets play by the rules!