Are Google+ branded pages only for Muppets?

Since Google’s  announcement, there has been an enthusiastic response to Google+ branded pages. Generally the applause has been loud and energetic, with over 600 news articles and innumerable blog posts. The positive response has proved interesting. After all, previously there has been some less than flattering rumours about the newly launched network. Whilst attracting over 40m users, there have been intimations that 83% of them are now inactive. Data analysis has even suggested that the only activity is being led by geeky, early adopter males! The truth is that no one really knows who is using the service and how. And that means we need to look a bit closer at what value a brand can expect from investing in the network.

The Google+ value to your brand

So let’s get to the nub of the issue for marketers: is investing in a branded page going to generate the ‘relationships’ that Google promises in its launch blog post. More importantly, is it going to enable relevant and sustained relationships that add value to the brand. Google+ launched with some key brand pages, so we thought we would take a snapshot of the results just 48 hours in.

Google+ numbers first

This first analysis simply looks at numbers of followers and +1s (recommendations). Yes, this is a blunt measurement. But this is early days and further analysis would be just speculation. And after all, a branded page needs to reach critical mass to maximise the value from engagement. In the table below we examine the launch brands and highlight the top ten for followers and +1 numbers. The Muppets page leads the way. Not surprising, as there is likely to be a strong emotional connection to the brand. Generally though, the results are not bad for two days exposure, but not great either for such an enormously well covered launch and such high profile brand. Many brands may still do better in Facebook when it comes to acquisition.

Where is the inspiring content?

Google makes it clear that the key benefit to marketers is the ability to build relationships. And part of brands building relationships, is to give consumers value through content.  I was hoping for rich, engaging, inspiring stuff – in other words, lots of social objects that would motivate me into a relationship with a brand.

Maybe great content will come in time as Google and brands find their feet.  However, without the facility to run promotions and competitions [Google doesn’t allow it on its pages], brands are going to need to be inventive to capture the attention of the public as more pages launch.

Relationship building aside, content that inspires recommendations is going to be crucial.  Google promises to incorporate the results from +1s into search and bring faster ways of connecting to brands through its search engine (with the ‘+’ search feature).

Our intention is to benchmark brand pages over the coming months – ultimately we need to evaluate the business benefits in search, engagement and advocacy that will justify the investment.

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