If you’re a faithful reader of this blog, you’ll remember our post last month predicting Google+’s decline. The post cited Google+’s limited user demographic and general lack of momentum as reasons for its lack of success. On November 7, the social media site launched brand pages for companies wishing to promote their wares and services. Will the recent addition of brand pages save the declining Google+?
Bluntly, we think not. Right now, there are a very limited number of companies that have a verified Google+ brand page, so it’s difficult to tell how national brands will utilize Google+ to communicate their values to their consumers. When searching for some megalithic brands–like Apple, WalMart, and Target–there seem to be no verified accounts available, although there already seems to be a proliferation of fan page accounts for each of these brands. Of course, brand pages only became available a few days ago, so there has been little time for these brands to create “official” pages, meaning that it might be too early to tell if these pages will save the declining social media site. At first blush, however, verified pages are difficult to find (even when searching with a “+” in front of the name) and do not seem to offer more information then would be available on the company’s Facebook page.
Although Google+ allows the added capability of “hangouts,” this functionality cannot, for now, top the capabilities of the applications available on Facebook pages. These applications allow companies to manage contests, sell products, and run promotions, among other things. For now, Google+ has a lot of ground to cover before it will be able to compete.
The question is, however, is it worth your time as a small business owner to create a Google+ brand page? Well, if you think about it from a “reach” perspective, the answer is probably “no.” Do you know anyone that has a Google+ page that does not use Facebook frequently? Most adopters of Google+ are fairly tech savvy, and only supplement their use of Facebook with Google+. Those with Google+ pages shouldn’t expect to reach new users.
Although it’s really not a fair comparison, Pepsi’s Google+ page currently has around 16,500 followers. Its Facebook, on the other hand, has 6.1 million. Now, I understand that the Facebook page has a major time advantage, but theoretically, because the Google+ page was so recently launched, it should be gaining new users more quickly than the Facebook page if the two were equally as effective at enticing fans to interact with the Pepsi brand. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Over a half an hour period, the Facebook page grew by 213 fans while the Google+ page only gained 143 followers. Google+ is going to have to grow much more exponentially if it is going to compete with Facebook. Of course, this is highly unscientific, but confirms the apathy to Google+ that many have been citing for the past few months.
At the end of the day, the only people who should be creating a Google+ page are those with the resources to invest in a social media page that can only come in a distant third (to Facebook and Twitter) at attracting customers. Although this might change when Google+ pages become more established, for now it does not seem like this added capability of Google+ will entice many new users to make the new social media service their primary way of communicating with brands.