Google+ is growing rapidly: business pages are taking hold, and the platform is becoming a viable marketing channel for larger brands at least.
It's definitely short of room to manoeuvre when it comes to how your profile looks however. Each page is locked down to the same structure (for now), and so at the moment there's not a lot you can do.
Thinking creatively is therefore tough, in fact, it focuses almost solely around the photo strip that resembles Facebook's Timeline banner. I'm not talking features (rich content, engaging conversation and hangouts galore just about cover that), I'm talking design.
As such, we've compiled 20 examples of brands that have managed to stand out from the crowd with the little they have to work with.
Major CPG brands spend eye-popping sums of money every year across multiple channels trying to convince consumers to buy their products when they walk into the supermarket.
When it comes to how that money is spent, you're probably more likely to think about high-profile television campaigns than you are to, say, websites. After all, a funny television ad for a cereal probably seems more appealing than a cereal website.
In the world of social media, many brands are doubling down on their investments. And when it comes to those investments, much is being focused on a few popular services.
One of those popular services: Twitter.
Twitter's strategy around monetization can be summed up in three words: "take it slow."
Thanks to hundreds of millions of dollars in funding, Twitter has been able to do something many digital media upstarts can't: explore new ad models at what often seems like a snail's pace, working primarily with a select number of brand advertisers and agencies.
For major brands, Facebook Pages have become increasingly important. In an effort to be 'liked', many brands are promoting their Facebook URLs in television and print ad campaigns, and are enticing users with coupons and other promotions.
But those investing significant amounts of time and money into creating 'engagement' on their Facebook Pages might want to consider what they're getting in return.
That's because according to a study of 84,000 links posted across more than 5,500 Facebook Page operators in October conducted by Edge Rank Checker, Pages with more than 100,000 fans deliver a paltry CTR of 0.14%.
If Google+ is ever going to compete with Facebook, it's clear that Google will need to attract brands and celebrities to its social network.
After all, brands and celebrities have become a fixture on Facebook, with some racking up millions of fans.
Perhaps wisely, Google launched Google+ with a focus on individuals. The logic seems sensible: to build a social network in which individuals can connect with brands and celebrities, you need individuals.
Those individuals, of course, aren't interested exclusively in liking Coca-Cola or posting messages on Lady Gaga's wall; they primarily want to interact with real people.
In the past, some search industry observers have suggested that Google has increasingly favored brands in its SERPs.
Supporting the arguments that Google has a brand bias were quotes like those made by Eric Schmidt, Google's now-former CEO, who once stated that the internet was becoming a "cesspool" and that "brands are how you sort out the cesspool".
When you work with brands using channels like Facebook and Twitter on a daily basis, you become very familiar with some of the pitfalls companies can fall into - and what results they seem to generate.
I've never been one of those people who likes to kick-up a stink when a brand makes a mistake but I like to keep a close eye on what trends seem to annoy customers most, if only to learn from them for the future.
As well as my own experience, I decided to do a bit of amateur research this week. I asked people to reveal what they find most annoying about brand behaviour on social media platforms, with a particular focus on Facebook and Twitter. Below is the culmination of that research.
The cozy relationships brands have forged with bloggers have been
controversial from the start.
Are marketing and PR initiatives that
target bloggers smart strategy, or are they little more than a flawed
"I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine" approach to social media?
The concerns over the latter have been so great that government agencies
have scrutinized how brands work with bloggers, and how those bloggers
promote those brands to their readers.
There has been much written and discussed in the last few weeks about
Google+, Facebook and a desire (often more than a reality) for a rivalry
between the two.
The truth is that they are very different: one is an
intelligent, network-based sharing-and-discussing tool and the other is
collection of different tools that users pick and choose from to curate
their own experience. These tools become important to the success and
survival of Facebook as does every brand that creates a reason for
people to use Facebook.