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April 30, 2014

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Most people see Facebook as The Beatles of social media. It’s an untouchable classic where all walks of life come to connect, including my mom-mom who at 75 just joined Facebook. But with recent changes to content distribution, Facebook may be falling short of Beatles status. Basically, “organic reach” has been slashed, with only a dismal 10% of your followers seeing your posts in their newsfeeds. Brands now have to “pay to play,” which is a less than ideal situation.

While New York Times previously referred to Google Plus as a “ghost town”, Forbes is now deeming it a place brands need to be. It never did dish out the Facebook smack down that people were expecting, but what can be said about Google Plus is that the numbers are there.

Forrester Research survey of over 60,000 U.S. online adults found that their Google Plus usage is equal to that of Twitter and greater than LinkedInPinterest and Instagram. Additionally, top brands have about 90% as many fans on Plus as they do on Twitter. While those numbers should be enough to put the whispers of “ghost town” to rest, their user engagement stats are even more telling.

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A brand’s impact is truly measured by its audience interactions. It’s clear from this Forrester Research chart that in the engagement arena Plus packs a pretty powerful punch.

The stunning quality of Google Plus visuals blows Facebook out of the water and may be a driving factor in user engagement. That coupled with their GIF capabilities, makes Plus the perfect medium for brands like Cadbury. By pairing clever, drool-inducing images with fun hashtags, they have become a Google Plus success story. I mean, who doesn’t love a little food porn, especially chocolate?

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The plus side of Plus doesn’t stop there. London based fashion brand, Topshop, made Google Plus the center of their Future of the Fashion Show campaign. They generated 4 million views across all platforms, tripling their engagement. The campaign grabbedhundreds of headlines and changed the minds of millions about the power of Google Plus.

Here’s a top 5 to keep in mind when making your move to Google Plus:

1. It Puts You on the Map– Google Maps that is. A Google Maps placement allows for ratings and reviews of your business and/or services. This is great for local businesses.

2. It Gives You an SEO Boost– Using Plus can help your brand rise in the rankings of an organic Google Search. Both Starbucks and The Economist utilize Plus for its SEO benefits.

3. It Helps You Helpout– Most people know about Google Hangouts by now, but Helpouts is a great tool for tips and advice on anything from free makeup advice to language learning for a small price. If your brand is looking to be a leading voice in your industry, this feature is key.

4. It’s Great for Influencer Outreach– While Twitter is perhaps the most common tool for this, Google Plus can also lend a hand. The Circles feature on Google Plus makes keeping track of your influencers all the easier. It can even help you cast a wider net in your search for more.

5. It Lets You Set the Trend– Plus hasn’t fully taken off yet, but at this rate it seems poised to do so. The impact so far of this platform and the benefits of being first to the table can go a long way.

A ghost town, by definition, is an abandoned place. Google Plus is not that. If anything, it’s a burgeoning, hip new area that has simply yet to go mainstream. But once people catch wind, take a tour and take in its charm, they’ll come flocking. Be a trendsetter and utilize the power of the Plus. More importantly, stick it to Zuckerberg and get your brand heard again.

Additional Information:

A solid top 10 of successful Google Plus pages here

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Alexandra Ferguson

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