Facebook heads off Google+ with business site

Social networking giant Facebook has responded to the threat from Google's latest attempt to topple its crown, Google+, with the launch of Facebook for Business.

While Google+ isn't scheduled to open its doors to business users wanting to push their brand for another few months, Facebook's equivalent offering is live now and gives corporate types a one-stop shop for getting started with Facebook.

Business accounts are nothing new on Facebook, of course: almost every major brand in the world has at least one Facebook page, exhorting its users to 'Like' its content and share advertising with their friends. Previously, however, certain features have been difficult to find, with the majority of Facebook's focus on answering questions from individuals rather than businesses.

To encourage the last few hold-outs to sign up - and for businesses that are already on Facebook but not making the most of the various facilities - Facebook has launched a new portal which walks businesses through the facilities on offer and how to take advantage of them.

The site explains the use of Pages, Sponsored Stories - the name given by Facebook to various acts carried out on a business page including posts, customer 'Likes,' app use, and Facebook Places check-ins - and the Facebook platform for plug-ins and custom apps.

The site also pushes users towards Facebook's advertising platform, with a video promising a 'global reach' of 'millions' of users just by creating Facebook content and - the company hopes - spending a bit of cash on paid-for advertising across the service.

While the launch doesn't come with any new features, it certainly does a better job of explaining the existing features than Facebook has ever attempted before. The reason is clear: should Google make good on its promise of opening Google+ up to businesses with a specific corporate account type, Facebook risks being seen as a less-tempting option.

It's not yet known whether Facebook intends to add any additional features to its business offering, but one thing's for certain: it'll be keeping a close on on Google+ to see what its fastest-growing competitor in years has up its sleeve. With a recent survey suggesting that the majority of UK businesses are investing heavily in social advertising, it's a market neither can afford to ignore.