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Every so often a report pops up suggesting that Google+ is far more popular than we actually think and that it’s on course to dominate the world of social media.
Just recently stats emerged which showed that G+ was second only to Facebook in terms of social logins, and the popularity of the network among pre-teens and youngsters suggests that its long-term prospects appear healthy.
But from personal experience I’ve found that brands aren’t particularly fussed about G+, despite the potential SEO benefits.
A survey of the top 20 UK online retailers revealed that 19 of them had G+ pages but only 13 posted content on a regular basis. And even the active pages achieved very low levels of user interaction.
To see if the same is true of other markets, I decided to run the same test looking at US retailers...
In the first half of 2012 Amazon was updating its G+ page on a fairly regular basis, however since September 8 it has remained silent.
The company’s 320,000 followers must be devastated...
Staples updates its G+ page on a daily basis with content including vouchers, special offers and product promos. However it still only has a paltry 2,200 followers.
It should come as no surprise to anyone that Apple doesn’t have a G+ page.
Walmart setup its G+ page way back in December 2011. It then posted two updates before abandoning it forever more.
Even so, it still has more than twice as many followers as Staples.
Dell has an incredibly active G+ page, often posting three or four updates per day. But the effort has yet to pay off as it receives very few interactions despite having 300,000 followers.
As with Staples, Office Depot updates its G+ page on a daily basis but gets a remarkably low number of +1s and comments.
Even its recent updates offering people the chance to meet One Direction only received two interactions – a similar post on Twitter would almost certainly have resulted in a flood of comments and shares from teenage users.
Sears is another retailer that maintains an extremely active G+ page for limited return. Its updates generally receive fewer than five interactions.
The company has around 43,000 followers and only posts a few updates each month, yet it frequently receives upwards of 500 interactions on each update.
Netflix generally posts movie trailers, so it’s probably due to the fact that people like to share movie news and clips.
Assuming it’s real, CDW Corporation has established a G+ page but done absolutely nothing with it. Even so, 26 people have the company in their circles.
Best Buy has a verified G+ account, however it’s done absolutely nothing with it.
OfficeMax is in the same boat as its rivals over at Staples and Office Depot. The company posts several updates per day but they appear to fall on deaf ears.
It has fewer than 500 followers and generally only gets one or two interactions for each update.
Newegg has a band of around 7,000 followers that it keeps entertained with almost daily posts.
On average its updates achieve roughly 20 or so interactions, which may appear low but it’s actually a decent number compared to other brands on this list.
Macy’s only updates its G+ page around three or four times per month, so it’s clearly not overly fussed about the network.
As a result it has just 130,000 followers despite being a prominent retail brand.
Sony takes G+ seriously and keeps it page updated on an almost daily basis, receiving the usual low level of engagement that one expects to see on the platform.
Much of the content is repurposed from Facebook but some of it is also unique to G+. It has managed to attract some 700,000 followers, though in comparison the PlayStation page has more than 2.6 million followers and the Sony Music page also has an impressive following of 1.4 million people.
However they all achieve a similarly low level of engagement.
As with CDW Corp there is a G+ page that purports to be for Costco, but it isn’t verified and hasn’t posted anything.
So it could be that Costco has simply claimed its page then left it dormant so that nobody else can cyber squat in it.
There is, however, a verified page for Costco Travel. The social team clearly aren’t blown away by G+ though as the page has only been updated 27 times since November 2011, with the last update coming back in January of this year.
L.L. Bean updates it G+ page a few times each month with interesting content that includes vouchers, product information, and images of people enjoying the great outdoors.
Unsurprisingly consumers aren’t very impressed and it has attracted fewer than 1,000 followers. In fact, it hasn’t even bothered to upload a cover image.
I’m not entirely convinced that it’s legit, but there is a page that claims to be the official Victoria’s Secret G+ account.
It has shared just one update way back November 2011, and although it appears to be fake it wouldn’t be too unusual if it turns out to be real.
You know the routine by now, JC Penney updates its G+ page almost every day and gets a couple of +1s in return. Just 630 people have the company in their circles.
HP updates it G+ page almost every day with product news, competitions, videos and information about the company.
The computer company has also hosted a couple of Hangouts this year allowing people to discuss various topics with HP staff.
Overall it’s fairly standard content, however HP has managed to attract some 400,000 followers, which is a far greater tally than most of the retailers on this list.
Neither of them is active though, with the former having zero posts and the latter sharing its last update back in February 2012.
US retailers are even less bothered about G+ than their UK counterparts, with just 12 of them updating their pages on anything like a regular basis.
The rest either maintained an active page for a brief period then got bored and stopped, or claimed the domain then did nothing else.
CDW Corporation, Victoria’s Secret and Costco have dormant pages that claim to be official but are yet to be verified by Google, while Apple is the only company that hasn’t even bothered to claim it G+ domain.
Even among companies that put in the effort to update their pages regularly the rewards are almost non-existent. Office Depot, Staples, OfficeMax, Newegg and JC Penney all have extremely active G+ pages yet generally have fewer than 10,000 followers and receive just one or two interactions per post.
I’ve said in previous posts that brands may need to rethink the kind of strategy they adopt on G+, as the tried and tested tactics that work on Facebook don’t get traction on G+ for a majority of brands.
This could mean a greater focus on Hangouts or using G+ as a blogging platform instead of just posting links to products and sales offers.
Overall though, it seems that brands are wasting a lot of effort posting content that nobody bothers to read.