Still wondering whether creating a brand account on Google+ is necessary? In case you missed the news, Google´s social network now allows brands to send e-mails direct to their followers. This is a great opportunity for businesses, but Google+ does not plan to stop there, and has prepared a number of new features due to launch in 2014 in a bid to give the platform a competitive edge against Facebook and Twitter.

With the option to e-mail followers on Google+, brands can expect a dramatic rise in open rates. Marketing website Business2Community predicts that these could increase from the average 0.05% to a high of 5% for e-mails sent from Google communities. This will give brands on Google+ great exposure and a major competitive advantage.

Some changes actually began last year, when Google+ divided Gmail inboxes into three categories, including a special folder for promotional messages. With this strategy Google took into account the fact that although people may want to read branded e-mails, they don´t necessarily want them to get in the way while they are at work.

In addition, Google has integrated YouTube comments with its social network, making it possible for brands to interact with real people who cannot hide behind anonymity.

Finally, brands need to remember that while people are often not allowed to access Facebook and Twitter at their workplaces, restricted access to Google+ is extremely rare. Business2Community points out that this can give brands an eight-hour window of opportunity to reach users during the day.