So Google+ has been around a while now and there have been many arguments and discussions based on if the social platform is working or not. The numbers certainly speak for themselves, in April 2012 Avinash quoted that there is over 170 million users on Google+, which is likely to look more towards 200 million now – a number that brands certainly cannot ignore.
That being said there has always been the argument that Google is forcing users and brands onto the platform with such releases as search plus your world and people and pages in search - even Google recently said they would stop pushing the information so heavily. Along with that people are still not convinced Google+ is a genuine social network where conversations and interactions take place in the same manor as perhaps Facebook or Twitter - i’m sure a lot of people have heard the line “Isn’t Google+ just for Marketers?”. Well, that got me thinking – what is the current state of some of the top brands on Google+ today? So I did some analysis around 10 of the top brands on Google+ to see what learning’s, if any could be discovered.
1. Number of Google+ Followers - I looked at how many people have these brands in their circles and follow them, to get this data I visited each of their pages:
Cadbury UK was a clear winner with about 2.25 million circle followers – but lets put this into perspective these are large worldwide brands, for most companies out there anything over 1,000 followers is pretty good going. So the question here is how did these 10 businesses setup so many followers in relatively little time?
2. Average Daily Increase in Followers – I used the website SocialStatistics.com to pull together how many new followers each brand had received over the last 2 months and then averaged that number.
Interesting to see here that there is a vast difference between half of the brands on this list, almost x10, x15 more users adding these brands than others. Looking historically on socialstatistics.com it seems that for the half that are currently driving much less than the others received a very high increase of followers at the launch of Google+ and have since tailed out, again Cadbury UK is delivering on average just over 10,000 new followers each day
3. Post Frequency and Post Quality- here I looked at how often each brand posted over the period of the last 30 days and scored a number out of 10 (being best). For post quality I again marked each brand out of 10 based on the type of posts, media, tone, platform specific – obviously the more types of content they have the better.
It actually surprised me that so many of the brands were posting such good quality content, I was expecting a much more “taken from our website” approach, when in reality there are definitive Google+ content strategies being applied out there – of course as you can see in the graph there are a few which a less successful.
4. Average Comments Per Post – perhaps the most important when discussing if the platform is actually being used properly by people. I calculated an average post count on the last 30 days for each brand.
5. Visibility of Google on Each Website – An important part of the integration for publishers is making sure you have the right buttons coded on the websites. I looked at each brand website that was linked in the “About” section of the Google+ brand pages.
Very clear that some brands have embraced Google+ and integrated the necessary but also, quite alarmingly there are brands that have no mention of the site – so how do they generate their followers? Brands could be using email, newsletters, brand visibility, organic search results and simply people searching for brands once on Google+.
6. Does quality and quantity of posting have any relation to conversation? I added the frequency average to the posting quality score to give an overall number.
So there’s some interesting takeaways from this graph;
- For the first third of the brands there is some correlation to the quality of what brands post and how often they post it
- There are some brands, most noticeably Pepsi that have a high number of conversations happening with relatively few posts (or bad quality posts)
- Topman, Samsung and Glamour Magazine have quite a high number of posts of good quality but relatively few interactions
So I had a look in a little more details into the quality of the conversations being had, I chose Cadbury UK, Pepsi and ASOS (I wanted a good mix of brands). Firstly I looked at if I thought the conversations were fake or genuine – I defined this through 3 random posts for each brand and categorized comments based on the post theme and relevancy.
- Cadbury UK – as you would expect their content is excellent and this is reflected in the types of comments. The content is engaging for users and the brand is prompting replies.
- Pepsi – The comments are relatively good and on topic but the content being used has no real direction, it’s a bit scatty in my book.
- ASOS – these guys are not a million miles away from Cadbury in terms of the type of content they are posting but the comments are very unrelated to the posts themes, clearly not at the same level of engagement.
This led on to the final part of my analysis, what is the quality of the followers like? It’s no secret that you can buy followers on Google+, you can do this for every social media platform – that’s nothing new. However have these big brands gone down the same route? Now I’m not saying users are fake or not but I did grade the type of follower – if they have added content about them besides the “standard” format and have posting anything else, I would consider that active (not very scientific I know), if the followers have literally posted nothing besides their name and location I did not consider that active – I looked at 50 random profiles for each brand:
What’s interesting is that there seems to be quite a mix of active versus non active followers (or real vs fake if you like). I have to admit, I did notice the same suspect profiles appearing a all of the brands above which would point to suspect behavior but what’s interesting is that Pepsi, who have the highest percentage of followers that appear active also have the closest ratio of comment to quality/frequency of posting - does this mean brands that post good content less frequently attract the right type of ”active” user? Perhaps, but there are many other variables which need to be taken into account.
Whichever way you look at this you have to say that there is good content being promoted on Google+ by brands and in some cases that content is being engaged with by real people – that in my book makes Google+ a worthwhile investment.
About the author
My name is Matt Ridout, I've been working in digital marketing for 9 years; worked for agencies and currently Head of SEO at fashion startup called Farfetch. Try to test my own theories.