8 Reasons Brands (and Publishers) Should Be On Google+

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Remember when people were convinced Google+ was a ghost town? We are overdue for a serious reevaluation of the do-everything social media platform known as Google+. Although it’s no Facebook killer, it doesn’t need to be to fill its niche, and that niche is growing - fast. Google+ is on track to outpace Twitter as the second largest social network in the world.

From the stats, we know that the members of the Google+ crowd are more likely to be young men in their 20s who use Android devices - you know the type. If you’re selling black rimmed glasses, you should be advertising on Google+. But there are lots of reasons for brands to invest time and resources into Google+ besides catering to the nay-saying nerd crowd. Here are the 8:

Data

Google + has proven itself to be a very rich data mine that allows it to connect brands with users in a much surgical way than Facebook. This doesn’t sit well with privacy advocates, but brands should love it.

Growth

Sure, Facebook has a larger audience, but nowhere near the exponential growth rate of Google +, which reached 10 million users in 16 days compared to 852 days for Facebook and reached 400 million users by September 2012, in part due to its acquisition of Snapseed, an Instagram competitor. And that’s not ghost-town users, either. As of December 2012, Google + had more than 135 million active users, up from 100 million in mid-September.

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Hangouts

Facebook has a video-conferencing through the ooVoo app, but Google + has President Obama answering questions about drones on a Google Hangout. The presidential seal of approval means a lot to the Google + platform in general but even more for the Hangout feature specifically.

The possible brand-focused uses for Google Hangouts are many, many, many -- especially with democratizing video production features like lower-third graphics. It’s clear that the robustness of the hangout means that Google+’s real competitors in this area isn’t Facebook, but rather Skype and FaceTime.

Google Glue

Google + isn’t just a Facebook competitor; it’s also YouTube, Blogger, Google Search and all the other components of Google rolled into one. It’s more than a social network; it’s a “social spine,” and brands benefit from this not just because of the richer data that Google can use to target sponsored content to users fitting a profile, but also because the content a brand puts onto its Google Plus page is more likely to show up in a Google search.

Mobile & Tablet Integration

Yes, Facebook has mobile apps and tablet integration, but Google+ takes its mobile presence to another level by leveraging Google Local, Zagats reviews and Google Maps to provide users and brands with a rich mobile experience, for the iPad too.

Customer Satisfaction

Despite all the crap people give Google+, when you look at customer satisfaction ratings, nobody beats them. Not surprisingly, Facebook is in the back of the pack -- possibly due to the next reason brands should consider Google+, the Facebook Timeline. Happy customers means users more open to brands on that platform; it’s that simple.

Facebook Timeline

In March 2012, Facebook announced that Timeline pages were required, forcing brands to scrap their Facebook pages that they had invested heavily in. This really damaged Facebook’s image as the only game in town because once a company is forced to rethink its social media strategy, it might be less inclined to invest heavily in a company that just pulled the rug out from under it without warning, and might give fresh eyes to a solid alternative like Google Plus.

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Google Glass

Does Facebook have augmented reality? Nope, because it doesn’t have Google Glass. It’s difficult to know how brands might use a Glass wearer’s data to serve ads through Google+ in the future, but chances are every time Glass wearers pass a Coca-Cola machine, they’ll get thirsty.