Is Google + Worth Your Business’s Time?

In July 2011, PC Mag’s Ilie Mitaru and Elsa Wenzel predicted that Google+ would “trump” Facebook pages. Search, ecommerce, mapping and location-based tie-ins, advertising, analytics, mobile payments, and other features would be enhanced. “So when Google+ business profiles allow you to integrate your business’s presence into trusted tools used by everyday searchers, it’s a proposition that neither Facebook nor business owners can afford to ignore.” Now, closing in on the end of the year, has Google+ proved to be a threat to Facebook and a boon to businesses? Eh.

Why not “hang out live with the local bike shop or discuss your wardrobe with a favourite clothing line” asks Google. Some companies, including Ford, had been operating a + profile for months as part of a beta phase for business, but last week, it was opened up for general company use.  About 61 percent of the world’s top 100 brands seized the opportunity and hoped customers would, indeed, hang out or discuss.  So far, Google+ hasn’t trumped Facebook; 94 percent of these same companies have a presence on that social network.  Let’s have a look at the numbers so far:

  • Coke, McDonald’s, and other major corporation have millions of fans on Facebook; their Google+ numbers are far less extraordinary at just a few dozen.
  • Collectively, these top100 companies have 300 million Facebook fans; they have fewer than 150,000 Google followers.

Not a record-breaking start for Google+, but it is important that it is a start.  The business-oriented side of the service is a week old.  And it appears that companies aren’t putting their full attention to the platform.  According to BrightEdge, only 12 percent of the companies have a link from Google+ to their homepage, compared with 53 percent that have a link from Facebook.

While Google+ isn’t burning Facebook into the ground, it is far from safe to declare it a dud.  In fact, new research from Experian Hitwise indicates that traffic to the service is up.  This is because they dropped the “by invitation only” requirement and opened it up for general use.  The site receives millions of visits each week and average visit times and rates of returning users have both increased.  And that’s a proposition that business owners really can’t afford to ignore.

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