It’s the question that’s birthed over one hundred and sixty million Google search results: Should my business be on Google+?
And our gut-feeling, straight-from-the-hip short answer is: No, not worth the resources.
Maybe that’s why Google+ comes up last on this list of predicted search responses…
But working in UX and UI, we know that gut feelings usually mean disaster. So we’re going to gather data and run a little, informal experiment to asses the business case for investing in Google+ as part of our own social media strategy.
We’re starting from absolute zero – our mint-in-the-box Google+ Page is here – and we’re going to see how quickly we can grow it, and what kind of traffic it can pull to our website.
Of course, there’s a much longer answer to the Google+ question. But it’s, well… a little longer. We’re going to run a series of blogs on it over the next two months, starting with this one.
No data, no dice
Link-baiting, social media snake-oil salesmen ply their wares to convince SMEs that devoting their scarce resources and time to Google+ will result in SEO benefits, rich engagement and increased marketing clout. But overall, the data just doesn’t seem to back it up. So far anyway.
There’s a consensus in marketing circles that unless your company has a global, Fortune 500-style positioning – or such a huge fortune that you can afford online marketing luxuries – then the best course of action is the same as it always has been on Google+: Wait and see.
Critical Mass have done a great job of boiling down this argument on Slideshare.
You only have 407 seconds a month to get people onboard your branding message
Google has 343m active users per month (May 2013). And the average monthly time spent on the platform? Six minutes forty-seven seconds.
In comparison, Facebook has 699m users per day, with an average visit time of 20 minutes.
Taking these stats at face value, on Google+ you only have 407 seconds a month to get people onboard your branding message. (Yes, working with the mode of usage, rather than the mean, might be better here. But these are the stats that we have to hand).
A smaller platform, like Pinterest for instance, might offer far better results – an average visit time of 14.2 minutes for a total of average of 98 minutes usage per month isn’t bad, and it could be well worth considering, depending on your industry and the resources you can commit to it.
(All stats were pulled from expandedramblings.com)
Google+ Usage off the charts. Literally.
In a report released in Feb 2013, Pew Internet’s survey designers didn’t even bother to include Google+ in its US social media usage comparison stats. Why not? Because:
“In pre-survey testing, we found that respondents had a difficult time distinguishing Google+ from all of the other Google services they might use. As a result, we decided to exclude Google+ from the list of services we measured this time around.” (Maeve Duggan, Pew Survey Designer, in Tech Crunch)
Respondents had a difficult time distinguishing Google+ from all of the other Google services they might use
People don’t know the difference between Google and Google+.
In general, people tend to know when they’re using Facebook – unless, of course, you want to make a point about Facebook Login in the comments. In the same survey, 67 per cent of adults online in the US said they were active users on Zuck’s platform.
No one is saying that people are not signing up to Google+ in their droves. They clearly are. But big question marks remain over whether people are active on the network, and what they are actually doing on it.
However, there are some serious considerations that we need to pay to the platform. Google’s commitment to bringing Google+ to every corner of its business shouldn’t be underestimated.
Google+ is not Google Wave (or Buzz or Reader or Answers…)
Google sees Google+ as being a “social spine” for the internet. A unifying, all-pervasive platform that is just as important to your web experience as your browser (by the way, have you tried Google Chrome?), and Google is betting the farm on Google+.
A unifying, all-pervasive platform that is just as important to your web experience as your browser
This means that we need to be able to provide credible advice to clients and answer questions, such as, “should I have a Google+ share button on my site?”. Which means, we need to get in there ourselves and experiment, at least a little.
And our little experiment begins today.
Over the next couple of months, we’ll be adding a series of posts that’ll review the overall direction of Google+ and argue for, and against its adoption.
We’ll try to make Google+ a viable marketing channel and join in discussion with the wider design and UX communities. And we’ll also be sharing our findings, our successes and our failures.
Wish us luck!
(And again, next time you’re spending your monthly six minutes forty-seven seconds on the platform, please, give us a follow.)