Brands failing to realise the potential of Google+

Google+ is a ghost town when it comes to brand involvement.

That’s if you believe the findings of some research we released today.

We took 50 of the UK’s fastest growing technology brands as ranked by Deloitte. These are all companies that – for one reason or another – are absolutely flying at the moment and posting massively impressive growth figures. They should be shining examples that we can all aspire to.

So with this in mind – as we have done over the last few years – we benchmarked them on their current social media activity. Not just whether they are active or not, but what they are posting and how they are using these channels.

Every year we uncover a range of fascinating insights, but this year is possibly more intriguing than ever. Hot on the heels of a few years of growth in terms of social media usage and levels of engagement, we’ve seen a slump in 2012:

Facebook usage is declining – use by brands has fallen over the last 12 months. Particularly surprising was the finding that only 83% of B2C companies used Facebook compared to 100% in 2010 and 2011.

Engagement levels on Twitter fall – while the use of Twitter for customer service by many household name brands continued apace in 2012, customer engagement by technology companies fell by almost two thirds to 24%.

Fewer blog, but those that do are improving – overall, the tech companies that have a corporate blog saw a clear increase in the frequency and diversity of posts being published, but only one of the brands assessed saw any engagement in return. However, blogging in general saw a decline, falling to just 28% of companies.

LinkedIn comes out on top again – the social network remained the most popular amongst tech companies (98%), followed by Twitter (82%). However, only 22% of businesses on the network advertised job vacancies on their page, despite being a highly used part of the LinkedIn experience.

All pretty interesting, I’m sure you’ll agree. But the one area that particularly caught my eye – partly because so much digital ink has been used up over the last year and a half since it launched, is Google+.

What about Google+? I hear you cry…

When we looked at how the UK’s top tech brands were using Google+ we found that, despite 42% of the companies having taken the trouble to create a Google+ page, a staggering 57% of these were no longer active.

There are a few questions that spring to mind here.

Firstly, by starting a social media account and then leaving it to rot and look forlorn is a reputational risk in itself.

Secondly, and more strategically, it seems that many companies are failing to realise what I believe is the real value of Google+. And, although this value is not entirely obvious right now, I believe (and will be happy to make a financial bet with you here) it will be in the not too distant future.

You see, as a brilliant article in the Wall Street Journal last week revealed, Google+ is here to stay and Google – one of the largest companies in the world – has big plans for it.

Don’t believe how powerful this could be? Go an open a new tab and type in “dell”. A simple search for one of the world’s most recognisable tech companies and you’ll immediately see the impact. A big Dell logo screaming out at you on the right hand side of the page where paid ads often sit. Guess what? This comes from – and links to – the company’s Google+ page.

Google is slowly, but surely, piecing together the whole internet and it is influencing everything from product search to long tail algorithms and even B2B thought leadership. A social layer that will connect all users, across all products and inform [this is the crucial bit] the way Google treats (and ranks) brands and businesses (and people).

So part of me is pleased that so many companies have given Google+ a try. But, for those that are neglecting it, I’d suggest they persevere. From a purely SEO standpoint – if nothing else – it has already been proven to be a powerful tool. And, in the future, it will be so much more.

Danny Whatmough is Director of Digital Strategies at EML Wildfire. You can follow him on .

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