For the past several weeks, the Web has been abuzz about Google+, Google’s foray into the world of social media. Users have given rave reviews to features like Hangouts that allow group video chats and Circles that help keep professional and personal relationships separate.

Unfortunately for local marketers, Google is being very careful about whom they let into Google+, and right now, they’ve closed the door to businesses. According to Google+ Project Manager Christian Oestlien, a team is working to customize Google+ for businesses, and something will be available later this year. Right now, companies can apply to be included in a small beta test for Google+ for businesses.

You can apply for the experiment here. Even if you aren’t included in the initial test group, you’ll have the option of being updated as soon as a solution becomes available. Here are a few reasons to start brainstorming ways to use Google+ in local marketing:

  • Integration with other Google properties – In an interview with Advertising Age, Oestlien said, “Ultimately we want to use Google+ across every Google property.” This means that you’ll potentially be able to use Google+ to increase the effectiveness of everything from your pay-per-click ads to your Google Places page. You should be able to use the power of Google Analytics to track your social outreach in ways that haven’t yet been possible.
  • Group video chats – Early adopters like Ford have already taken advantage of the Hangouts feature to have face-to-face chats with their customers. These video chats can be a powerful tool for connecting on a personal level and offering everything from customer service to local announcements.
  • Competition is fierce – Oestlien told Advertising Age that Google was overwhelmed by how quickly businesses like Ford and MTV responded to the new product. While marketers were slow to respond to sites like Facebook and Twitter when they were first introduced, they are much savvier about the power of social media today. If you want to break through the noise, it is important to innovate early in the game.

Will you sign up for the Google+ business test? How do you think it will benefit your local marketing? Let us know in the comments section below.