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Google+ Pages Six Months On: Why You Should Have One

Dean Marsden

by Dean Marsden on 10th May 2012

On November 7th 2011 Google launched the much anticipated Google+ pages for businesses. This gave organisations and companies the chance to expand their brand presence on the relatively new Google+ social network.

 Previously, some people desperately wanting to have their brand on Google+ set up personal profiles with their brand names as a way of achieving this; however this was not entirely what Google wanted so they hurried out the pages format as an easier way for individuals to find their favourite brands online.

Google+ Page Search Results IntegrationOne reason why the pages feature may not have originally launched when the new social network first went live was because of Google’s big plans to make pages tightly integrated into its Google search results, such as the Google+ page and latest post listings (right). Despite these integrated search results being live today, many brands still do not have this benefit from their pages. It is slowly being rolled out but I think many people expected this to work faster.

Google search, plus your world

Google Search Plus Your WorldJanuary 10th 2012 saw the announcement of Google search plus your world which sent the online industry in to a craze over the future use of search engine optimisation. Announcements of SEO is dead summed up most people’s thoughts on Google turning the search results inside out by showing more listings from web pages recommended by others in their social circles.

Thoughts of SEO turning to social media marketing were uttered amongst SEOs, was SEO dead? For us in the UK at least, the Google search plus your world was not implemented as quickly as many had thought and today not everyone has access to this feature. It turns out that these customised results are currently an option which can easily allow us to switch between normal organic results and personalised ones.

So, that sums up a bit of the history around Google+ and its pages launch. Were Google trying to scare businesses into signing up for their service by announcing search results would be heavily impacted by a brand presence on Google+? At Koozai, we make sure our clients have at least created a page for when (and if) such major changes do get made to their core search results. This brings me on to the main point of this blog post, Google+ page usage.

 UK brands on Google+

Recently, I was posting an update on Google+ relating to three big UK supermarket brands and as is best practice, I wanted to mention them with the correct ‘@’ or ‘+’ formatting so that they linked through to their Google+ pages. Imagine my shock when searching for these goliath brands on Google+ and finding one didn’t even have a Google+ page and the other two had very little information and just a handful of followers (less than 200).

Perhaps it is because I am a huge fan of Google+ and use it every day, but it seems as though brands are not taking advantage of the large audience on Google+. I appreciate that larger organisations need to spend months planning their marketing strategies instead of just posting willy-nilly, but there is highly engaging audience on Google+ waiting to interact with their favourite brands.

Take Cadbury UK as an example, they’ve gone full pelt into their Google+ marketing and as a result have gained themselves over 1.1 million followers. By comparison their Twitter account has just 33,000 followers. Cadbury were recently featured in a Google Case study about their use of the unique Hangouts on Air feature which allows group video chats. Jerry Daykin, Cadbury community manager explains why they use Hangouts “What’s different about a Hangout is that it’s eye-to-eye, face-to-face contact. We can’t directly connect with every person who buys our chocolate, but we can connect with some of them. Then more people see the Hangout, and feel they’re part of the experience. It’s a new frontier.” Completed Hangouts can be directly uploaded to your YouTube account allowing for further social media exposure.

The statistics speak for themselves

Recently, Google CEO, Larry Page announced that 170 million Google accounts  had been “upgraded to Google+”. The UK market accounts for about 4 percent of that which equates to around 6.5 UK million users. By the end of 2012 there are expected to be 400 million worldwide Google+ users.

The Google+1 button is served more than 5 billion times a day so that’s a lot of potential social ‘likes’ or ‘votes’. Google+ users are generally more tech savvy professionals and around 67% are Male.

Social visits to the Koozai website from our Google+ page currently make up around 5% of our social media referrals, which is pretty good considering the number of people that have circled our page. More importantly it makes up more than 5% of our goal values from social media. Google+ accounts for more assisted vs last click goal conversions then any other social source, which means that interactions at any stage are more valuable to our new business leads.

The graph below shows the breakdown of the various Google+ interactions on our brand. As you can see the +1s are by far the most used item, with posts, comments and re-shares receiving similar levels of usage.

Social Network Activity in Google Analytics

Greater reporting opportunities

As Google+ is entirely a Google property, they’ve managed to easily integrate highly useful interaction statistics into both Google Webmaster Tools and more recently Google Analytics. These are very powerful free services to allow you to easily see what people are recommending and posting about your brand without the need for a 3rd party software service.

Social Conversations in Google Analytics

Why you should have a Google+ page

You’ve already read about the integrations between a Google+ and the Google search results, which is an extremely important reason why you should have a page, but there is also a wealth of great Google+ features you are missing out on:

  • Highly descriptive biographies with formatting options such as bolding and anchor text links, allowing for a rich ‘about’ section. Local businesses also get a map view.
  • The ability to post rich updates with pictures, links, videos and text formatting options. You can also write lengthily updates which tend to be indexed well in the Google search results.
  • The photo gallery feature is very powerful feature if you have professional imagery to share.
  • Easily ‘like’ or comment on posts from anyone. Likewise you can disable comments and the ability for users to re-share your posts.
  • Easily find and follow customers via multitude of channels: using the search feature, viewing yours or anyone else followers and the people they follow, and via comments and +1′s, amongst other ways.
  • View the spread of your messaging with the powerful built in ripples feature. See how your posts (or anyone else’s) have reached others and find new, powerful social connections.

Why you shouldn’t have a Google+ page yet

So far I’ve tried my best to convince you all of the benefits of having a Google+ page but its time to confess and share some of the issues you may or may not be aware of with Google+:

  • Statistics showed that user interest and engagement dwindled at the beginning 2012, more Google+ users are spending less time on it. However with the recent redesign and constant feature updates, Google are providing more ways for users to benefit from Google+.
  • No API. This is probably the biggest issue for a large organisation as they may wish to build their Google+ activity into their own systems. The lack of an API also prevents social media marketers from scheduling updates when there might not be resources available to log in and post updates.

Summary

This blog post came about as a rant after spotting of some of the biggest brands in the UK have not yet got involved in Google+. I wanted to look at why businesses are not yet using it and how it has effected those that have. I believe it is essential all UK brands on a presence on Google+ from now on.

Social Media takes a lot of work to get right, however with Google+ you can easily create a detailed about page and respond to customers both publicly and privately. I suggest putting an official Google+ button on your own website and seeing which of you customers connect with you on Google+ and go from there.

Share your experiences of Google+ pages in the comments section below, I’d love to read what everyone’s thoughts are.

Dean Marsden

Dean Marsden

Dean Marsden will be keeping you up to speed with video marketing and conversion rate optimisation. Dean excels at delivering video marketing solutions for clients and specialises in converting website visitors into customers.

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5 Comments

  • Mike Essex

    Mike Essex 10th May 2012

    A great insight Dean. Cadbury’s is actually a really interesting example, as they have certainly taken advantage of the lax guidelines of Google+ in the early days. One competition for example encouraged people to share a post (in effect spam their friends) to win a prize.

    In the end they couldn’t give away a prize as that would violate the terms, and they got a lot of free followers for very little work.

    They did it again later asking people to share a post so they could “test out the Ripples” feature – which gave them tons of free data on their influential fans, above and beyond what they’d normally get.

    It was really clever, but it did annoy a lot of fans in the early days of their profile which coud be seen by numerous “hate comments” under their initial request.

    Reply to this comment

  • Jerry Daykin 10th May 2012

    Thanks for the shout out for the Cadbury page Dean!

    Mike – at the risk of being over protective I should point out that the instance in which we didn’t offer a prize was the same as the Ripple issue, and that even then it’s a slightly loose interpretation of what happened… but really I think the lesson is that if you’re new to a platform there’s plenty of room for error and misinterpretation but if you’re willing to push through that there are great rewards too :)

    Jerry – Community Manager at Cadbury UK

    Reply to this comment

    • Mike Essex

      Mike Essex 10th May 2012

      Hi Jerry,

      Thank you for your feedback, and I apologise for the mix-up with the campaign. 99 times out of 100 I think what you’ve done is great (the chocolate phone and Google+ chocolate bars being two personal highlights) and agree that you can’t make chocolate without spilling a bit of mixture ;)

      Reply to this comment

  • Jerry Daykin 10th May 2012

    Haha, thanks Mike – it’s ok, we definitely DID annoy many of the G+ community, that much is true! We certainly didn’t mean to and hopefully by continuing to use it positively and proactively we’ll continue to be accepted :)

    Reply to this comment

  • Den Nicholson 10th June 2012

    There are some very valid points here, I love Google+ as it is so easy to use, however there are very defined groups on it, some who came through the beta period and in my opinion although they all preach togetherness in their posts they still manage to make it difficult for others to break into the circles that carry the most influence.

    Reply to this comment

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