Over the last couple of years, most local social media marketing professionals have heard a lot about Google+, Google’s social network. However, we in the marketing industry must always be careful to research social networks before deciding to spend our company’s time and money on them.
Despite the prevalence of Facebook, some marketers had been looking for the next big thing in social media, and Google+ seemed to emerge at just the right time. When Google+ was first introduced, its user base grew quickly. However, according to one of our sources, this information is misleading. People who already used Google’s other services like Gmail were automatically added to the Google+ network, so not all of these users are active Google+ users.
Active vs. Inactive Users
It’s important to keep in mind that the number of account holders a social network has is not as critical as the number of active users on the site. Although some reports claim that Google+ is bigger than Twitter, it has far fewer active users. In fact, Google+ usage is difficult to measure because some Google users aren’t entirely sure if they’re using Google+ or another Google product. Many users set up their Google+ pages, but never use them. In fact, 19 percent of Fortune 500 companies have inactive Google+ accounts. The data also shows that people spend a lot more time on Facebook than they do on Google+.
Facebook Still Growing
By all counts, Facebook is still the leading social network on the web. More than 70 percent of businesses have a Facebook page, and less than 40 percent have a Google+ account. Although some marketers may argue that young people are abandoning Facebook, the data tells a different story. Teens—all 94 percent of them—are sticking with Facebook.
Content sharing is another indicator of user engagement. Facebook, followed by Twitter, leads the way in this category, too. When people use the popular Gidya widget to share information online, 50 percent of users share information to Facebook, compared to just 2 percent who share the item on Google+.
Despite all these facts, Google+ may be useful for your company. Although it’s certainly not as widely used as Facebook, it still has value. As a newer social media network, it still has room to grow and we have found that an active presence on Google+ has a major impact on your business’s rankings in Google Search. With that said, simply creating a Google+ profile and business page will not help your rankings. The only way to benefit from this new social network is to actively share content with your audience.
Depending on your business, your customers might be more likely to be on Google+. Even though it’s likely that the majority of your customers don’t spend a significant amount of time on Google+, having a presence on the network will help your Google ranking so it shouldn’t be ignored. To learn more about Google and how to use it’s resources effectively, see our Google handbook.