Political candidates already are looking to Facebook and Twitter to spread the word for the upcoming 2012 election. Now, Google Plus is another option.

A few public officials and presidential candidates already are using Google Plus for their cause.

One example presented in Google Plus’ online guide for lawmakers, campaigners and governments is Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is using a Google Plus page to poll his constituents on hot-button issues such as whether or not corporations should be limited on how much they can spend on campaign donations. Since the post on Nov. 9, nearly 30 discussion comments have been posted on Sanders’ Google Plus page.

Other case studies offered in the guide include how Michigan Gov. Rick Synder posts messages that are targeted to different constituencies, and how Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney posts spoke with prospective voters in a real-time video chat.

Another GOP contender, Newt Gingrich, was first among the presidential candidates to use Google Plus by joining in July. He has since hosted video chats through the network.

Chicago’s Rahm Emanuel is believed to be the first mayor of a major U.S. city with a Google Plus page.

Google Plus launched its Pages functionality this month in order to support “businesses, products, brands and organizations with a public identity and presence.” Facebook has a similar offering. Through the Google Plus page development, Google will assign verification badges to Google Plus pages of public figures and celebrities, as well as people who have been added to a large number of circles, to ensure that the identity of the person creating the page is valid.

Users who wish to start a Google Plus page still must create a personal Google Plus profile.

Much like on personal accounts, users can click the “+1” button for projects or news articles on other Google Plus pages, posts or news articles online, according to Google. In addition, political office websites or campaign display ads can include a +1 button connecting to a Google Plus page.

Google Plus pages can be designed to announce separate messages to specific groups using the “circles” function. For example, a politician may want to have different circles for constituents, voters or donors.

[Photo: Newt Gingrich speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2011. Photo courtesy of Mark Taylor/Flickr CC]