It has been just over three months since Google+ made brand pages available. While things may have been off to a slow start – after the first month less than half of the Interbrand 100 brands had posted to their G+ page – things are starting to get interesting. In this analysis we are going to follow up on the trends and questions that were laid out in our previous study, identify new trends that are building and identify key strategies that are working for the leaders in this space. Again, we will be using the Interbrand Top 100 and are evaluating the brands and verticals that have already entered the Google+ arena.
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Since the first month, one additional brand – Honda – has created a page. While few new brands have joined Google+, the early adopters have had massive growth in size of audience and consumer engagement since December. Since the three month mark, 15% of the brands were posting over 3 times per week, up from 11% in month one. Also, 13% of brands have circler counts over 100,000 – a dramatic increase as none of them had broken the 100,000 mark previously. These two points indicate that more brands are prioritizing Google+ and working on growing their presence. Brands certainly need to focus their attention on growing but in order to be key players in this network they must further engage with their circlers.
At this point, it’s also pretty safe to say that Google+ is here to stay.
In the last report, circle counts across the network were averaging lower than expected. Early research indicated that the process for gaining circlers was too restrictive. However that might not be the case. Now, three months in, 36% of brands have seen over a 100% increase in circle size. This likely can be attributed to brands becoming more active and consumers getting more comfortable with Google+.
Again we see that no single industry dominates the top 10 list in terms of circler size. We also see that there is still a high concentration of share at the top as the top 10 having a combined 5x larger audience than the 90 other brands on the list and the top 13 brands have 97% share. As these early adopters continue to grow their presence, it is only going to be more challenging for the laggards to catch up. For brands looking to establish a leadership position on this hot new social network, the window may soon be closing.
In our last report a few leaders were rising to the top: Ferrari, Volkswagen and H&M. After 3 months, the brand post leaderboard has changed. Ferrari and H&M are still in the top two spots, but Volkswagen has dropped to position 5 and Google Inc. has moved into the number three spot. Yes, you read that right: Google Inc. no longer dominates their own network, which is probably something Google is glad to see.
While H&M is a frontrunner in terms of brand posts and circler size it is still not translating to engagement – they only engage with 2% of their circlers. Ferrari is the clear leader in terms of engagement with a 92% engagement rate. Other brands would be wise to emulate and experiment with the growth strategies implemented by H&M and the engagement strategies of Ferrari.
From a vertical perspective, electronics is leading the way. This industry is quickly adopting Google+ and it is growing rapidly both in terms of network size and outbound activity. If they can improve how they engage with their circlers, electronics will be the number one industry across the board on Google+.
More than anything, to keep brands excited, they need to know that it is possible to build a large and engaged audience on Google+. Our month 1 study raised some concerns on this front as there was an initial spike, then a drop off in consumer engagement. However, the three month trend now shows that consumers are actually interacting with brands on Google+.
Brands are continuing to experiment with their content strategy and are honing in on what drives engagement for this budding network. And while Google+ as a whole still has a smaller user base than other social networks, but it continues to show great strength in terms of content engagement.
Interactive content, made up of video and photos, continues to not only be the most frequently posted content but it also drives the most engagement. For the Top 100 brands, it makes up over 65% of engagement happening on Google+.
Looking at consumer and content engagement together shows that the participants on Google+ might be of higher value than users found on other social networks as they are actively involved in the conversations taking place. Developing a strategy to capitalize on this level of interaction will prove beneficial for all brands on Google+.
Trends continue to show that brands are posting during regular business hours and consumer interaction is following suit. Currently 86% of the engagement that takes place happens during working hours (5am to 5pm PT) and 89% of all engagement happens on the weekdays. Based on this, the primary use of Google+ currently happens at work, not at home.
Brand and consumer interest in Google+ continues to grow. And while more time is needed to see what kind of market-share it is able to take away from the competition, there is no denying that brands need to start participating in, and experimenting with Google+. It can be particularly beneficial for those times when a highly engaged and responsive audience is needed. Furthermore, there is still a great opportunity to be a leader in the space, especially when learnings from the current leaders are applied.
Check out the Simply Measured Interbrand Top 100 Live Viewer
Note: Microsoft is not called out in this list as they have activated a page for a business unit (or multiple) but not for the entire organization.