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Is Google+ the party that people are showing up to fashionably late?

26 Jul, 13 | by Claire Bower, Digital Comms Manager, @clairebower

At the Figaro Digital Marketing Conference last week, Dan Patmore (Search Marketing Manager for Argos) shared his views on what trends and products digital marketers should be focusing on in the next 12 months. He pointed to insight, technological developments and the importance of the customer. He also (somewhat reluctantly) mentioned Google.

Dan described the launch of Google+  as “the party that nobody came to”.  In other words, there was a huge amount of hype, everybody got very excited, perhaps created an account, and then, nothing. He continued the analogy and surprised some people in the room (including myself) by saying that Google+ in 2013 may well be “the party that people are showing up for fashionably late.”

In January 2013, the Global Web Index revealed that Google+ had overtaken Twitter to become the second largest social network. Google+ now enjoys an impressive 359m monthly active users and brand interaction has apparently grown by 45.5% between Q2 2012 and Q1 2013.

Why should brands pay attention to Google+?

When a user is logged into any Google account, searching for a particular brand will allow that brand’s connected Google+ page to appear on the right-hand side of the search listings (see the search results for Scientific American as an example). The page appears automatically, whether or not that user actually follows the page, and sits prominently in the right-hand sidebar. Since this placement is free, easy to set up and quick to implement (brands need only add a small piece of code that connects their Google+ page to make the connection) it is highly advantageous and gives a quick data capture and community build element from natural search listings.

What this means is that Google+ has become a rather serious player in a relatively short period of time. Google’s decision to link the social network to search listings is not a happy coincidence. It has ensured that there is a clear reason for brands to integrate the service into their existing online marketing strategy for SEO.

Aside from the obvious advantages of social search, Google+’s Hangout functionality is also gaining traction and is set to be integral to Android devices and Google Glass. (If you haven’t heard of Hangouts, it’s a group chat function that allows users to chat in real time video.)

Who’s using it?

Topshop has had well-received usage of Hangouts to stream live fashion week and Cadbury have also adopted the functionality early with a series of live events. Other noteworthy mentions include Coca-Cola and Intel, both boasting an established, content-rich presence on the social network.

Even publishers are getting in on the action. Nature Publishing Group have hosted a Climate 2k Journal Club with authors and subject experts across the world. Scientific American have also worked with Google on a number of Hangouts, including one on the science of skiing and snowboarding in the era of climate change and more droughts, and another #deStember educational event designed to teach students how to obtain DNA from a banana.

Since its launch, Google+ has become an important component to online marketing campaigns, with larger brands already experimenting with creative possibilities. At the moment, the most obvious reason to use Google+ is discoverability. However, the social network is developing from an SEO channel to one where its expanding user base, feature-rich environment and interconnectivity with other Google products have reaffirmed its value within digital marketing.

Let the festivities begin!

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