According to latest figures, Google+ now has over 100m users. A phenomenal feat when you consider that the network has only been around for a little over six months.

So it’s no surprise to see more and more brands getting in on the act.

The challenge many brands are facing with Google+ is how to use the network as a business communications tool and what use they can find for it that they would not be able to find on other similar networks.

A few brands are already making interesting moves, using it in effective ways to engage with their audiences… 

Ford Europe competitions

Google+ was less than a week old when Ford Europe ran a competition to win a copy of the rallying console game Dirt.

The concept was simple: Ford posted a picture and you added your comment. The comment with the most +1s won. The simplicity of the campaign showed a clear understanding of the network and a willingness to work with and trust their instincts.

This was a brave move by Ford, as the network was quite exclusive at that stage and those that had access were not very familiar with the way things worked.

Cadbury UK product launch

Many people were surprised when Cadbury UK used Google+ to announce the launch of its new Dairy Milk Bubbly bar in January 2012.

And although Cadbury didn’t use Google+ exclusively, the fact that the news was broken on the network meant Cadbury would have been able to interact with followers beyond the activity on the page, especially in a way that was better than what other networks had to offer at the time. 

Cadbury is one of the more popular consumer brands on Google+. Here is the company’s five best practice tips for G+

David Beckham hangouts

Google+’s hangouts have proved to be a very popular addition to the network, with major brands and celebrities using its video conferencing tools to reach out to their audiences.

England footballer David Beckham was one of the first to use the hangouts to reach out to his fans. The session proved a huge hit, leading to other brands and celebrities “hanging out” with their fans, including US President Barack Obama. 

The hangouts provide a medium of real time video conversations that can only build confidence in the brand. 

Burberry’s images and multimedia

Burberry was one of the first brands to launch a Google+ brand page.

The company was quick to realise the power of a network powered by an engine like Google, the unique features, the deep integration with YouTube, rich photos and other multimedia and the opportunities that came with that.

These amenities ensured that Burberry was able to showcase its products to consumers in their true light.

Intel’s circles

One of the most unique features of Google+ is the “circles”. Circles allow users to group followers into different groups for communicating different things.

This means brands are in a better position to share more relevant information with their followers, as against churning out the same information to everybody.

A good example of this can be seen with Intel, who invited users to select the photo which best represents the circle best aligned with the interests. This subtle but very effective move proved to be the right one as it ensured that people were getting exactly what they wanted.

Google+ is set to introduce more features very soon and if these stories are anything to go by, it’s about spotting an opportunity and going for it. It is important to keep a keen eye on these developments, as the opportunities are limitless.