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.
One 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.
January 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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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+:
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.