Google gets ready to launch Google+ for business as estimates say it has 44m users

After a few months of testing Google is getting ready to roll out business user accounts, which have to date only been available to a couple of test accounts, namely Ford and General Motors, as reports suggest it is nearing 50 million accounts.

Last week Google opened Google+ to everyone. Users had previously needed invites to join Google+, but in an effort to speed its growth Google threw open the doors to the beta testing of its social network.

Christian Oestlien, group product manager for social advertising at Google, told a conference that Google+ business profiles would be ready shortly. We first heard Google was working on a dedicated business product back in late July.

Ford as one of Google’s test business accounts jumped very early on the Google+ wagon and Ford Europe ran its first brand competition back at the start of July.

Previously Google told business users that they could not set up accounts until it was ready and it forced some firms including MTV and Mashable to close accounts they had set up.

However, according to a report on Ad Age a number of brands have set up pages including Burger King, Starbucks, Home Depot, Kraft salad dressing, Verizon Wireless, Snapple, The Wall Street Journal and Condé Nast. While others have had their names squatted by fans.

“In the case of Coca-Cola, Best Buy and Louis Vuitton, there were multiple profiles for each. The situation is reminiscent of what marketers discovered on Twitter a few years ago when they tried to register for Twitter handles and found those corresponding with their company names had already been claimed. In one egregious situation, Hyundai’s legal department wrangled with Twitter for months to obtain ownership of @Hyundai, to which an individual had posted racy photos.

“At least one marketer isn’t overly concerned. Told that there is a Snapple profile on Google+, a spokesman for the Dr Pepper Snapple Group said it was typical for fans of brands to do such things. Robert Stone, director-interactive for the company, added, ‘We’re always looking at new opportunities to engage our fans. We’ve been monitoring Google+ since it launched and will actively seek ways to incorporate our brands when the time is right’,” Ad Age reports.

The news that Google+ is getting ready to roll out business accounts will undoubtedly lead to a surge in user numbers and brands begin promoting their presence via other channels.

At the end of last week Paul Allen, the internet entrepreneur, calculated by using a model that counts surnames that Google+’s membership was just over 28.5 million on September 9. That was in keeping with other estimates including this in July that said Google+ had 20 million users and then in July comScore said Google+ had reached 25 million users.

Allen believes that Google’s social network might now have almost 44 million users.

“My team just completed a new round of counting Google+ users by surname. And I have updated my model. Our sampling of 400 uncommon surnames in the U.S. also reflects usage in many other countries, since the list of 400 includes names that are popular in India, Germany, Italy, France, Japan, and many other countries.

“In the past couple of days, since Google opened its doors to the general public over age 18, the growth rate has skyrocketed to rates we only saw during the first week of its “field test” — back when it had a small number of users to begin with, the growth rates were of course much higher.

“But when I checked the data this morning, it is clear that Google+ is absolutely exploding — 30% growth in just 2 days and with a base of nearly 30 million members already.

Here are my latest estimates: On September 9, our model showed 28.7 million users. This morning, our model shows 37.8 million users, with most of the growth coming in the last 2 days. By adding a fudge factor (see below) to account for private user profiles and for non-Roman surnames (both of which are totally overlooked by our surname counting model), my current estimate is 43.4 million users,” Allen said writing on Google+.