After a lot of fuss and bother, not to mention more than a little hype, Google+ brand pages were launched earlier this month.
Many within the industry predicted Google+ brand pages were destined for great things: some even went as far to say that they would prove to be better and more useful than the Facebook equivalent, which is quite a statement. So a few weeks on: what’s the verdict? Are Google + brand pages about to knock the old king off his throne, or will Facebook carry on remorselessly and continue to sweep all before it?
Well, a lot depends on your point of view.
The answer hinges on whether you believed that Google’s brand pages would definitely prove to be the best. If you did, then that maybe had something to do with the fact that Google started in this social media marketing race with 2 distinct advantages: Google analytics and its established search engine pedigree. Obviously these things would tend to give Google a leg up: the analytics information is easier to access than the Facebook equivalent, and pound for pound is the best application for giving you all the vital information you might need. The search engine pedigree also gave it an advantage: Facebook historically generates a much lower click through rate, resulting in an increased cost of a PPC advertisement in Google’s auction system. Given these advantages, you’d have thought the issue was going to be a no-brainer. Of course Google+ brand pages are going to be successful. Or are they?
Well, according to a study by BrightEdge, cited in an article published by Search Engine Watch, around 61% of the top 100 brands now have a presence on Google+, including some of the biggest brand names like O2 and Burberry. By contrast 94% of those same top brands have a presence on Facebook. In fairness, the comparison is slightly skewed though as Google’s brand pages have only been available for a few weeks. In fact the numbers are quite impressive given the infancy of the service.
However, there’s another side to the story.
The brands that have chosen to market with Google+ brand pages currently have just 148,000 followers according to BrightEdge. Is that impressive in the circumstances? Well, not if you contrast it with Facebook. The social media giant is reputed to have close to 300 million followers of brands on its network. Still, on a more positive note the study did find that brands that do decide to take up a Google+ brand page as a platform for social media marketing campaigns could be set to benefit in Google search results. Those businesses that had a presence on Google+ typically ranked in the top 12 on Google’s SERP (search engine results page), whereas those with a Facebook page featured, on average, in the top 13-14 results.
So is it possible to draw any conclusions about Google +’s brand pages yet?
The answer’s probably no, well not yet at least. The take up on Google+ in general has been more modest than was predicted, though 25 million people are currently registered users. Compared to Facebook’s billions, that’s just small fry. Nonetheless, the take up of brand pages has been better than probably even Google had hoped, so they may eventually prove to be a hit in the long term. Only time will tell in the end.