An interesting article by Danny Sullivan came out a couple of weeks ago on Marketing Land, entitled “Sorry, Google+ Users, Those Super Bowl Hashtags Really Were For Twitter“. The premise of the article is that the hashtags on SuperBowl commercials were for Twitter and not for Google+.
The methodology for the study was to examine the companies that had SuperBowl commercials displaying hashtags and see which of these companies had Twitter accounts and Google+ accounts. The brands examined were Audi, Best Buy, Budweiser, Calvin Klein, Cars.com, Doritos, Fast & Furious, GoDaddy, Hyundai, M&Ms, MiO Fit, Samsung, Speed Stick, Subway, Tide, Toyota, Volkswagen, and Wonderful Pistachios. Half of the brands don’t have any presence on Google+ and the half that do have Google+ pages didn’t post on their pages using their hashtags during the SuperBowl.
No matter how much the Google+ community argues and complains about engagement and usage on Google+, I agree with Danny Sullivan that the big brands only have a presence on Google+ as an afterthought. Discussions I have had with social media managers of large brands confirm that.
Should your brand be on Google Plus?
As an owner or manager in a small or medium business, with a brand that doesn’t have national recognition, should you also ignore Google+ or only set up a presence as an afterthought? Big, national brands have an advantage over smaller, local businesses and have the luxury of choosing where they want to engage with customers and potential customers. Even franchises enjoy this brand-name recognition to some extent and potential customers will search for them using their brand name and their geographic location.
Independent businesses that aren’t as well known, however, have to compete for search traffic in their category for their geography with all of the other companies providing the same products and services in their area, including the large brands and franchises.
The Google Plus Advantage
If larger brands choose not to participate on Google+ as a social network, you can use that to your advantage and establish your brand’s presence on Google+ for the search value. While many minimize the importance of Google+ as a social network, no one minimizes Google’s importance as a search engine. The Google Plus advantage is that by creating a Google+ account and setting up your Local Page, your business can be featured in the local results.
For example, let’s examine the competitive field of pest control. If you do a search for “pest control phoenix” in Google, you will see that it is a competitive space because of all of the ads that Google shows around the actual results.
Notice that in competitive spaces, Google will show three ads with prominent placement above the search results, as well as a column of ads next to the search results. As you probably already know, these are paid results and the advertisers bid for placement in those spaces. Google also has different layouts for different types of searches. For a local business search, Google will display the first three actual search results, followed by a map, followed by Google+ Local listings (which used to be called Google Places) and then the rest of the results. If you are logged in to Google+, the layout is a little bit different, but the items are still displayed in the same order, as shown below.
If you notice in the first example, Burns Pest elimination shows up at the end of the ads (sponsored listings). That means that they have a Search Engine Marketing (SEM) or paid search campaign, but they are not bidding as high or higher than ten of their competitors. Hence they show up in last place. Scroll down to the map on the page, however, and you’ll see the Google+ Local results and you’ll notice that Burns Pest Elimination is the #1 result, with additional information displayed, including their address and phone number, as well as a link for reviews and a link to their Google+ page.
So, why does Burns show up above all of their competitors in the local results? They have claimed and have posted information on their Google+ page. At the time of this writing, Burns only has about 20 posts on their page and only 3 people have them in their “circles”. So, if you asked a social media expert, they would probably tell you that there isn’t much social engagement on this page, and they’re probably right.
Despite the fact that there is little engagement and content on the Google+ page, the search results placement seems to indicate that Google values that, at least for now.
What do you think? Do you think putting the effort into setting up a Google+ page for your business is worth it or not?