Last week Google introduced Google+ Page, meaning businesses were given the green light to create professional profiles on the social network. Google+ boasts 40 million members — a number that’s sure to rise now that business pages have finally launched.

While it takes time to create a profile and learn a new social ecosystem, it’s usually worth doing. Google+ gives you an opportunity to target your customers with relevant content, and it also opens up the doors to creative marketing channels like “Hangouts.”

In this article, we’ll show you everything you need to create and promote your Google+ Business Page.

Create Your Account

It’s recommended that before you create your Google+ Page, you first sign up with an email account that’s accessible by everyone on your marketing team. This means that using your personal Gmail address probably isn’t a good idea. Google is working on adding support for multiple admins and ownership transfers, but for the time being, marketers will have to share one login. Once you’ve decided on which email account to use, you can start the account creation process by navigating to the Google Account creation page.

You will be asked to select a category that defines your business. You can choose from “local business or place,” “product or brand,” “company, institution, or organization,” “arts, entertainment, or sports,” or “other.” You will then be asked to choose a sub-category, which is dependent on the main category you selected. For example, if you chose “product or brand” you can select “food and drink,” “home and garden,” and so on.

Customize Your Profile

Next, you will be asked to briefly describe your business and upload a photo. In order to remain consistent across platforms, it’s a good practice to use your company’s logo or whatever image you’ve uploaded to other social media accounts. This helps your customers to identify you more easily.

Before you tell the world about your Google+ Page, it’s worth creating a few updates and sharing some valuable links so customers don’t come across an empty page. You can start sharing your latest blog posts, videos, or other relevant content about your product or industry. You can also get creative with the photos that you upload to your account. For example, brands like Adidas and Android have taken advantage of Google+ to display creative and captivating photos of their products.

Also, if you already know some of your customers or brand evangelists on the network, now is a good time to start creating some Circles so you can hit the ground running.

Promote Your Page

When your Page is ready for the public, let people know where to find you by adding the Google+ Badge to your company website, in addition to emailing or tweeting your Page link. Similar to Facebook’s sidebar widget, these badges — which feature a +1 button and an “Add to Circles” button — will allow your visitors to subscribe to your Google+ Page directly from your website.

Currently the interactive badge is only available to members of the Google+ platform preview group, which anyone can join. From there, you will be able to configure your badge and copy the code to your website. If you’d prefer to wait until this feature is public for everybody, you can still link your Google+ Page to your site through a Google+ icon. To configure your icon, copy and paste your Google+ Page link into the box, select which size icon you want, and copy and paste the code to your website.

Google has also introduced another avenue for promotion called “Direct Connect.” This feature lets people discover your Google+ Page simply by entering “+” followed by the name of your Page in Google Search. Only select partners have been given access to this feature, but more will be able to access it soon. You can learn more about Direct Connect in Google’s Help Center.

Once your Google+ Page has been created, you should start working the social network into your marketing strategy. Because the platform is new to many businesses, this is a great opportunity to experiment with different content strategies, outreach efforts, and customer support resources.

Do you have a Google+ Page? Tell us about it in the comments below.