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The future of Google's greatest social networking effort to date, Google+, may be debatable, but the search giant hasn't found it very difficult to lure brands to Google+.

And for good reason: Google+ has been Google's most respectable social effort to date and brands have learned that getting on board services before they get big is often a far better strategy than waiting until it's too late.

While it remains to be seen whether those brands that joined the Google+ bandwagon early will be rewarded with ROI, there is some promising news according to social media analytics provider Simply Measured.

It looked at the Interbrand Top 100 brands that are present on Google+ and found that, six months in, 22% of the brands circler counts exceeding 100,000. Nike, which joined just two months ago, is one of them. All told, the total number of circlers counted has grown 138% since Simply Measured's first report three months ago, and circler engagement is up 112%. Engagement with content, which Simply Measured says is driven primarily by photos and videos, is up too, although not as much (65%).

As one might expect, not all brands and verticals are treated equally on Google+. Four luxury brands -- Ferrari, Gucci, H&M and Burberry -- are tops in terms of the number of circlers they have. Combined, they have more than 2.5m circlers. In terms of verticals, brands in the automotive, electronics and luxury categories are by far the most popular.

According to Simply Measured CEO Adam Schoenfeld, "With a user base surpassing 100 million and growing fast, Google+ is becoming an attractive channel for brands to engage with consumers."

For brands like Ferrari and Gucci, that does appear to be the case. But there's a wide chasm outside of the top-tiers of the Google+ brand page leaders. Armani, which ranks twenty-second in circlers with 111,000, is followed by Adidas, which has just 26,000 followers.

A lot of this has to with how great an effort different brands are making on Google+, which raises the question: just how much time and money should brands invest in Google's social network to get results? Ferarri's 730,000 circler count is impressive, but the iconic automobile manufacturer has more than 8.1m likes on Facebook. Adidas, which has a far less impressive circler count, has an equally impressive 7.6m likes on Facebook.

Obviously, Google+ isn't yet a year old, so comparing circlers to likes isn't entirely fair. But at the end of the day, savvy brands will begin to make comparisons. What's the cost of acquiring a new circler compared to a like? At what point does fan acquisition hit a plateau on both networks? What's the value of circler versus a Facebook fan?

Right now, Google can't offer a Facebook-sized audience, so it should probably focus on doing what it can to ensure the answers to these questions cast Google+ in a favorable light.

Patricio Robles

Published 9 May, 2012 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2379 more posts from this author

Comments (5)

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Alex R.

We have a few of our clients on Google+ and I have to say, it is not easy to catch on to. I find it confusing and don't like it at all. Maybe it just takes some getting used to but right now, I am definitely not used to it.

about 4 years ago

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Rick Noel

Savvy Internet marketers, pay attention! Google+ integration with Google Search is sufficient reason for Brands to get on board. Circles on Google+ mean increased exposure in the natural search results which get personalized by Google+ circles by default. With the rise/leadership of Chrome in the browser market, the dominance of Android in the mobile OS market, Samsung devices shipping with Google+ apps native (how long for the same for Motorola devices?), Google dominance in search, record time for Google+ to reach 100M users, etc. are all good reasons to think that Google+ will be a major player in the social space for a long time to come. Those who compare Google+ to Facebook and say that Google+ will never get there are the same people five years ago who were saying that Facebook would never be as big as MySpace!

about 4 years ago

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Lynsey Sweales, Md at Social-B

google plus isn't just about social media and engagement its about social search. 80% of people trust a recommendation so google is working hard and spending lots of money to encourage us to use google plus. This will then help with an almost human search engine (through +1, etc)

about 4 years ago

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Elliot Reuben, Planning Director at EHS4D

At present, the most compelling reason for a brand to be on there is the effect on search.

Nobody I know talks of it as anything more than that - nobody talks about how easy it is to engage with brands / consumers there, nobody talks about how feature x is better than Facebook's feature y; same thing all round: "Hey. It's really important for search."

If I was Google I would find that worrying for the future.

about 4 years ago

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Deirdre Attinger

I completely agree with Elliot Rueben - it takes quite bit of time & effort to set up and grow a Google+ page- especially as it does not seem intuitive - however the search benefits are very obvious! Especially now that Google supports the Rel="author" tag. I feel that it is important for websites to become integrated ASAP.

about 4 years ago

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