In 28 June 2011, Google + launched. Much has happened since the – time to take stock. What developments have the Internet giant’s social network gone through, what standing does it have with its users today and what role does Google + play in the marketing mix of companies?
What is Google+ doing in the marketing mix?
Google + yesterday and today
With this latest round of updates, we believe the new Google + is your Google + – designed around your, requests and needs. It also means it’s time to say goodbye to classic Google + on the web, which we’ll be turning down on January 24.
Product manager Danielle Buckley’s blog post reads like a fresh start, and indeed the final shift to the new design on January 24, 2017 marks a milestone in Google + “s richly troubled history. A quick summary:
Expectations were high before the 2011 launch – Google + was trading as Facebook’s direct competitor. The bare numbers still make an impression today:
Wherever there were 107 million users in 2012, Google + counts a whopping 3.09 billion users among its members in 2016.
Despite steadily increasing user numbers, however, Google + has not been able to establish itself as a social network.
Because active is only a fraction, according to one study, only four to six million users had created public posts in 2015.
There are no secured figures about the number of users who are also active in closed groups. However, the spread remains enormous and is mainly due to the forced coupling.
Many users were automatically tied up a Google + account with their Android smartphone or the use of other Google services – without actively using the platform afterwards.
That’s why Google + remained mostly uninteresting for corporate marketing.
This is how the internet giant saw itself under pressure to act. To create new incentives and counteract the image of the digital ghost city, a large number of updates and rebuilding measures followed – often in vain.
Features such as the Author Tag or the Local Google + Industry Search have been introduced, only to disappear from the scene after moderate success.
It was the same with services such as Messenger or Games. Only the Google + Communities and the Google + Collections, which were released in 2012, have established themselves as successful features that should also lead the way for further development.
The new Google + – take stock
Worlds lie between how Google + works in 2011 and today. In the early stages, the platform was seen as seeing clear bonds from the big model Facebook.
News feeds, and private profiles were in focus. After switching between classic and new views in 2015, Google + finally said goodbye to its traditional design in 2017.
Google + (first picture) has been a strong reminder of Pinterest (second image) ever since.
Accordingly, a lot has happened regarding usage. The main findings for marketers:
1. Focus on how – collections and communities work
Personal profiles take a back seat, content into focus. Collections and communities appear in the navigation bar at the top left as the most prominent features, and stock the overview page stream with largely image-heavy posts. Filtered no longer primarily by circles, but by interest categories.
Collections are created and managed by a person to collect posts on a specific topic area (such as recipes or travel photos).
Communities also cover a specific topic area but can be filled with input from all members.
With the switch to the new design, Google + has finally made a U-turn – away from the Facebook competitor and towards the community platform.
The realignment does not come by chance but targets the specific needs of users who have emerged over the years.
2. User behaviour on Google + – photoaffinity audience
Circle Count’s analysis of about nine million Google + postings on approximately 10,000 profiles and corporate pages allows detailed conclusions to be drawn about the platform’s user behaviour.
According to this, 57% of posts are photos, followed by links (27%) and videos (8%). Visual content is also at the forefront of performance.
Compared to an average post, photos get 149% more “like” information (+ 1), are commented on 136% more often and shared 133% more frequently.
At the latest with the introduced feature “Image Zoom” and RAISR technology, which allow image enhancements without sacrificing quality and reduce the data size of images, Google + underpins its development towards the network for image collections of various images Niche Publics.
On Facebook, every – meets on Google +, on the other hand, special interest users come together in communities and exchange their photo collections. In addition to tech topics, the categories of design and photography are particularly popular.
3. Google + as a marketing platform – the niche meeting place
At first glance, Google + appears to be a less marketing-friendly environment: Contrary to absolute user numbers, far fewer active members can be reached in the network than on the established platforms Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
Also, Google + is not designed as a business network. Content is paramount, while profile information from private users and companies is placed less prominently.
Add to that the hiring of the local industry book and a lack of ad opportunities. With the ad format + Post Ads, introduced in 2013, there are paid Google + posts. However, these cannot be played out directly within Google +, but only in the AdSense network.
However, the latest developments reveal a new marketing potential: Through the different communities, companies can reach their target groups directly – at least in specific industries:
74% of Google + users are male, to the Top professions on Google + include engineers (29%), developers (17%) and designers (14%). So if you want to serve a niche audience in these areas, you can easily find interested parties here.
Also, Google +, like any other social network, is also interesting from an SEO point of view. According to Google, while social signals don’t directly affect the ranking.
However, high-quality and target group-relevant content is still true. And the more popular the posts, the higher the chance that influencers will pick up the content and create backlinks on the respective corporate website.