Facebook Rival Google+ Opens Up to Businesses, Brands

'We want to make sure you can build relationships with all the things you care about -- from local businesses to global brands,' says Google exec.

Google opened its social network Google+ to businesses and brands on Monday as it seeks to expand the audience for its rival to Facebook.

Google+, which has attracted more than 40 million users since it was launched in June, was previously only open to individuals.

"So far Google+ has focused on connecting people with other people," Vic Gundotra, Google's senior vice president of engineering, said in a blog post.

"But we want to make sure you can build relationships with all the things you care about -- from local businesses to global brands," Gundotra said.

He said the new feature, called Google+ Pages, would allow users to connect with their local bike shop, for example, or follow a band on tour and would help businesses and brands connect with customers and fans.

Facebook, which has more than 800 million members, already allows businesses, brands, groups and others to create their own pages.

Google on Monday also introduced a feature called "Direct Connect" to allow users to quickly find a particular Google+ page.

To find the page for the Angry Birds game, for example, a user types the symbol "+" into the Google search box followed by AngryBirds (+AngryBirds).

Angry Birds is one of a number of brands with a Google+ Page.

Others include FC Barcelona, Burberry, the Dallas Cowboys, Pepsi, Save the Children and Toyota.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011

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