Google+, the search giant’s social network, has taken a lot of flack since it first launched back in June, 2011. Every few months, like clockwork, another influential marketer, blogger or media publication has declared it a ghost town. If you’re marketing a business on a limited budget and can’t afford to experiment as much as you would like, you might have given Google+ a pass to this point.
Forrester wants you to rethink that decision. In fact, they believe every marketer should be on Google+, so much so that they’ve just released a report called The Case for Google Plus, touting the merits of the network.
The Case for Google+
Among those merits, according to Forrester:
- Google+ has more users than you may think. In their own survey of 60,000+ US adults, Forrester found that 22% use Google+ each month (the same as Twitter and more than LinkedIn, Pinterest or Instagram).
- Google+ isn’t bad for audience engagement. In their analysis of 3 million user interactions on 2,500+ brand posts across social networks, Forrester found that Google+ posts get twice as much engagement as tweets and almost as much as Facebook posts.
Other benefits that aren’t touched on in Forrester’s blog post (but may be in the $499 report) include:
- enhanced search visibility thanks to blended search results,
- the local carousel in local search results,
- author and publisher markup
- and the ability to integrate with other networks.
You can learn more about each of these factors in Alison Zeringue’s MarketingLand column on Google+ benefits for businesses.
The Case Against Google+
Seems like a no-brainer, right? Except then you have contradictory opinions like that of Claire Cain Miller from the NYTimes, who hammered home the old refrain that Google+ is a ghost town in the opening of her February column, The Plus is Google Plus? It’s Mostly for Google.
Steve Miller from Copperfox Marketing recently wrote an open letter of apology to Google+ after slamming the platform last summer. Turns out he hadn’t really given the network a fair shot and changed his mind after spending some time digging around in it.
Other detractors have complained about Google integrating Google+ comments with YouTube, their real names policy, account deletions and more.
So Should You Use Google+ for Marketing?
Forrester can’t tell you where to invest your budget. I can’t tell you. I do think it’s worth giving it the old college try. It’s true that Google+ simply has less users than Facebook – about a quarter the amount, by some estimations. However, the volume of users doesn’t matter as much as you might think, as I explained early in 2012, given how deeply Google+ is integrated with everything else Google offers.
It’s difficult to decide where to spend time when you’re marketing a small business. If Google+ isn’t super engaging, there’s nothing wrong with limiting the amount of time you spend there – you don’t have go at it full bore and spend an hour a day there trying to engage. Use your About section to let people know a better place to connect with you. Make sure you’re getting notifications and responding to any comments or questions on Google+ in a timely manner. Kristi Hines wrote a pretty comprehensive guide to optimizing your Google+ profile that will help get your profile and page in shape.
Like anything in marketing, Google+ won’t work for every business, every time, in every situation. It’s up to you to give the social networks with potential an honest shot to see whether it’s worth it for you, in your situation. All signs point to Google+ at least being worth a try.