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Google+: Brands Rush In Where Consumers Fear To Tread

Earlier this week BrightEdge released data on early adoption of Google+ pages by brands. It also offered a comparison with Facebook. The SEO firm said that 61 percent of the top 100 brands in the US have Google+ Pages, in the little over a week since the doors were officially opened. By contrast 93 percent of that same top 100 have Facebook pages.

The Google+ adoption numbers are impressive. Indeed, given the possibility that Google+ may turn into a major new social platform brands want to quickly establish themselves on it. So far, however, there isn’t that much follower action, according to the BrightEdge report:

Not surprisingly, Google had the largest fan contingent of any brand on Google+, having attracted more than 65,000 fans. In these early days of Google+ Pages, top consumer brand stalwarts like Coke, McDonalds and Verizon had only dozens of fans, all just a shadow of the millions of Facebook fans these brands have already connected with.

BrightEdge said that “no brand other than Google had more than 50,000 Google+ fans,” while more than “two dozen of the top 100 brands have over 1M fans on Facebook.”

Ford is something of a case-in-point. It was one of the earliest adopters of Google+. The company was part of the initial wave of entities that set up +Pages before they were officially allowed. It has 27,535 fans on Google+. On Facebook it has nearly 5 million.

I much prefer the look and feel of the Ford page on Google+; it’s “cleaner” and even more “branded” in a way than on Facebook. Facebook was lauded for being “cleaner” than MySpace in its early days but now Facebook has become very cluttered. (I’ve excluded that clutter [the right columns] from the screen shot above.)

Another reason that brands and their agencies have raced in to Google+ is because of the potential future SEO value of participating in Google+. In addition, video chat feature Hangouts offers a unique way to connect with fans/followers vs. Facebook and Twitter.

If the fans/followers/plusers don’t come all this will be relatively moot however.

It’s not clear whether Google+ is gaining or fading. Hitwise recently released data showing that Google+ just had its “third biggest week since launch.” That suggests new momentum.

There are others, however, who believe the recent bump masks a larger stagnation that presages the inevitable failure of Google+. Tech bloggers and journalists seem increasingly prone to snap judgments and hyperbole these days. It’s way too early to call Google+ a failure. However it does face a struggle to justify itself to consumers who otherwise appear relatively happy with Facebook.

Yet brands and agencies will continue to use Google+ in an effort to get “+1s” and because Google is indexing Google+ pages. New brand and business activity on Google+ may in turn create more consumer interested and engagement — especially if companies offer incentives to +1 them, as they frequently do on Facebook.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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