Google+ didn’t have the strongest start as a social network, but has since gone on to disprove commentators and pundits that prematurely deemed it a ghost town.
Indeed, throughout 2012, G+ has transformed from a burgeoning network to one that can compete with the big players in the sector. Activity on the network has also blossomed, with recent Global Web Index figures showing that it has been outpacing juggernauts like Twitter and YouTube in this regard.
So we’ve established G+ is alive and well, but how has it progressed as a marketing platform?
– Facts and Figures
Since its inception in 2011, G+ has stood out from the crowd in regard to its integration with Google’s suite of products. And the company seems to be placing a lot of weight in it going forward.
“I expect brands will notice this and will build marketing plans around it,” said Bradley Horowitz, vice president for products at G+.
In December 2012, it took the crown for the fastest growing social network ever – with 500 million users. Similarly, five billion +1 uses were recorded every day in 2012 and 60 per cent of users were logging on to the network daily.
But how does this translate to marketing opportunities? Well, in January 2012, American users racked up a little more than three minutes activity on G+ on average and marketers seem to be keen to take advantage of this largely-untapped resource. Over 40 per cent of respondents to a recent Hubspot survey thought it would be “useful to critical” in terms of marketing their brand in the future
– What now?
So you’ve decided to opt in to Google+, but with all the features on offer, you might feel a little overwhelmed – don’t worry, that’s expected.
One good starting point is adding a +1 button to your suite of pages. While this won’t directly influence your ranking on SERPs (search engine result pages), it can have some indirect SEO benefits.
For instance, having +1 functionality on your site can triple the amount of directed traffic from G+. Similarly, if your target demographic is connected to the network – any of your items they +1 will be deemed more relevant in searches on that topic conducted by their G+ friends.
This appears to be indicative of the direction social and search is evolving in – with the recently-announced Graph Search from Facebook also making strides in this direction.
– Brand Pages
G+’s brand pages are a great starting point for marketers who are new to this arena and Google are consistently rolling out updates to improve the experience for brands and users alike.
One such feature is the company’s much-lauded location-specific local business option. By signing up for this, you can tie your online presence to your real-world location. Shortly after its launch, Google introduced verification and businesses (although currently only those in the US) can now verify their page via phone.
Verification not only stands as a mark of authenticity, but will also qualify you for a custom URL and enable your brand pages to show up in results on Google Direct Connect.
Google+ is definitely losing some of its novelty value as a newcomer, but has offset this by becoming more useful for users and brands alike. While not everyone is convinced of the network’s usefulness, a time is quickly approaching where a lack of a G+ brand page will put you at a serious marketing disadvantage.
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