Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Why Have a Google+ Page for Your Business?

Everyone knows that Facebook is where the numbers are. According to Trendstream's Global Web Index,  Facebook had 693 million active users compared to Google+'s 343 million active users, and Twitter's 288 million active users for the last quarter of 2012. It would seem looking at just the numbers one would be best off focusing their energies in promoting a brand on Facebook. There is a problem with that, while a brand can reach every one of their followers on Google+ and Twitter theoretically, thanks to Facebook's EdgeRank a brand reaches only a small portion of their fans. Facebook filters the posts a brand makes on their page showing only the posts they feel are relevant to any given user. As a result only a small portion of a page's fans are reached. An example of this is my author page. It is a small page with only 1303 fans. Of those fans on any given post I reach at most only about 390 fans. For most posts I only reach about 200. So at most I am reaching less than a quarter of the people that have liked my page. Going by that if a brand has 1 million fans it will reach less than 300,000 people that like the page. This is not a big return on the time it takes to promote a page in order that folks will like it and see the posts. With Google+ and Twitter though a follower can, if they wish see nearly every post or tweet made by a brand.

Sadly though brands do not have a good track record with Google+. An example of this is CBS's page for the TV show NCIS on Google+. On Google+ the NCIS page has only about 14,093 followers. This is compared to over 16 million on its corresponding page on Facebook. Even given Facebook's filtering using EdgeRank, the NCIS page on Facebook is still reaching far, far more people than the NCIS page on Google+. Many Google+ pages are this way. They often have less than half a percent the number of followers on Google+ than they have on Facebook. There are probably a variety of reasons for this. Google+ is only a little over  a year and a half old giving Facebook a big head start, people on Google+ do not seem interested in following brands, and Google+ does not promote following brands the way Facebook does, but probably the primary reason people do not follow brands is not the fault of Google+'s staff or its users. It is the fault of the brands themselves. Brands do not readily promote their pages on Google+, or if they do it is not obvious. Brands do not always update their Google+ pages as often as they do Facebook. An example of this again are the NCIS  pages. The NCIS  page on Facebook is updated nearly daily while the corresponding page on Google+ is only updated every few weeks. As of this writing on March 27, 2013 the +NCIS page on Google+ has not been updated since March 5.  If folks see a page has not been updated on Google+ they are unlikely to follow it.

It need not be that way. In fact, the rock star of Google+ pages is the page of +Cadbury UK  with almost 3 million followers (its Facebook page has less than 400,000 fans). Unlike most brands Cadbury has promoted their page. They post several times a day, and even operate a community (the equivalent of a group on Facebook) in connection with the page. When Daria Musk did a concert via a Google+ Hangout for Valentine's Day, Cadbury UK gave away chocolates. While not as impressive as Cadbury UK, +Android Central  has 273,727 followers and like Cadbury updates their page often. They too operate a community and it has over 100,000 members. Android Central sometimes has promotions on its page like giving away free apps in Google Play to celebrate the page's first birthday. And they are always posting videos and other engaging content.  +NASA's page  is another successful page. Its page has over 473,000 followers. NASA posts several times a day often posting pictures or videos, and even hosts Hangouts on such topics as rising sea levels. The space agency even had a Hangout with the astronauts aboard the International Space Station. Each of these pages can reach as many people or more than their corresponding Facebook pages thanks to Facebook's EdgeRank. Google+ does not filter posts, and users can set put all their pages in a circle, and set it so they are notified when a post is made. Google+ actually makes it easier for a user to see a post made by a brand page unlike Facebook which has made it harder for posts to be seen.

Besides potentially reaching more fans with posts using Google+ as opposed to Facebook, there are other advantages to having a Google+ page. Posts from a brand page on Google+ appear in Google's search results. Facebook posts or tweets on Twitter do not do this. This gives posts on Google+ a sort of permanence. They will be waiting there to be found with a Google search time and time again (at least until and if they are deleted).  What is more, these posts will come up higher in a Google+ user's personalized results. For example, if I do a search on Google for "space exploration" results from NASA's Google+ page come up near the top of the list. So even if a Google+ user misses a post on Google+ from a brand page they may still see that post in a search on Google. Further if a link is shared on Google+ it will rank higher in one's personalized results. Say if my brother +Terence Towles Canote shares a link to a BBC news story on  Richard III and the finding of his body. If I do a search for "Richard III body" my brother's Google+ post will come up higher in the search results. In this way, Google+ users can refer other users to sites they like or recommend. If a business is promoting its Google+ page and posting links to relevant sites away from Google there is no end in how they can get their sites higher in search results on Google.

There is no reason a brand cannot have a successful Google+ page. And with it they can reach more people than they would with a Facebook page. With the fact a user can see every post made by a brand as well as the fact that a brand's posts and links will show up higher in search results there is no end to the amount of marketing a company or individual can do. Facebook may appear where the numbers are, but with closer examination it is easy to see one can potentially reach more people using Google+.