November 23, 2014

Surprise: Marketers Want More Google +

Despite the low turnout on Google +, marketers want to learn more about how to use the social media platform effectively, according to the  2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report. A surprising number of those surveyed – 70% – said they want to learn more about Google +, despite the fact that only 40% are currently using it.

google plus

“I was surprised by the number of marketers who are committed to expanding their work with Google+,” said Michael Stelzner, founder of Social Media Examiner, “70% is a huge number and that means Google+ will be a big force in 2012.”

For the past four years Stelzner has released an annual report on the social media marketing industry. Each year, the findings tell us what’s new in the world of social media. In general, we’ve seen a shift toward more social media adoption from brands, which is good news for the industry as a whole. In fact, this year, 94% of those surveyed are using social media. That’s up 6% from two years ago.

What’s the Attraction?

If Google + is a ghost town (its users spend on average three minutes a month there, compared to the 405 minutes a month spent by Facebook users), why do so many marketers want more of it? The answer, most likely, is due to the fact that Google + activity appears in search results. Its newly-rolled out Search Plus Your World displays the preferred results of a Google user’s contacts above others. For businesses angling to move up in search engine results, this is a huge boon. There are critics, of course, who feel Google is unfairly pitting Google + users’ results above more relevant content, but that’s to be expected in the grand Google debate.

Where Google + Falls

Google + ranked sixth most popular, among the commonly used social media tools in the report. It ranked just above photo sharing sites, forums, bookmarking sites, geolocation and daily deals. There’s a chance that could increase in the next year, as 67% of those surveyed plan to increase their use of Google +.

What are We Getting Out of Social Media?

Marketers are still asking how they can benefit from Google +, and there aren’t a lot of convincing answers just yet. But ROI has always been a point of contention for those on either side of the fence. Long have bosses been asking about the benefits of social media (i.e, how does it affect their bottom line). In the survey, here’s what marketers said about social media benefits:

  • Increased exposure
  • Increased traffic
  • Provided marketplace insight
  • Generated leads
  • Developed loyal fans
  • Improved search rankings
  • Grew business partnerships
  • Reduced marketing expenses
  • Improved sales
Sadly, the report didn’t provide the magic bullet we’re all looking for: how to measure the ROI of social media. However, that was the #1 question those surveyed still want an answer to (us as well!).

Areas of Growth

While we know that there are newcomers in the social media world this year, there’s a surprising lack of mention of Pinterest in the survey. That’s because of Pinterest’s tremendous growth which occurred after the survey was conducted. I imagine we will see much more about it in next year’s results.

Part of an Overall Marketing Strategy

Smart marketers know that social media is just one piece of the entire marketing pie. The marketers surveyed also use SEO, email marketing, event marketing, online advertising, press releases, webinars, sponsorships, direct mail and offline ads to help support and counter their social media efforts.

Just like I always say: be in as many places as you can to reach the maximum number of potential customers. While the verdict is still out about the effectiveness of Google + for small businesses, the fact that we’re still seeing new players means that social media will continue to evolve for the better.

The 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report is available as a free download until April 19.


Google Plus Photo via Shutterstock

14 Comments ▼

Susan Payton - Awards Communication Mgr.


Susan Payton Susan Payton is the Communications Manager for the Small Business Trends Awards programs. She is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, an Internet marketing firm specializing in content marketing, social media management and press releases. She is also the Founder of How to Create a Press Release, a free resource for business owners who want to generate their own PR.

14 Reactions

  1. Marketers might want it, but users don’t. Which means we’ll get marketers marketing to marketers. Forever.

  2. Thanks Susan for covering our industry report!

  3. With Google putting so much effort into Google+ it behooves marketers to learn how to effectively use the platform. Google has too much money to let their baby go the way of MySpace and become another Facebook casualty.

  4. I think good search results, more traffic and more exposure are the greatest reasons why people are choosing Google +. That is the logical explanation to it. However, I wonder how Google would justify the debate of more preference to Google + activity displaying is search results. Very interesting insight, thank you for sharing!

  5. I can’t believe people still spout that stupid “ghost town” crap. It’s what somebody said 6 months ago when the service was just getting started (and even then, they were dead wrong).

    • Hi Alex,

      Well, there is considerably less activity there than on other social networks, among small business people. I keep encountering otherwise socially-active professionals who have not yet set up a Google+ profile, and one recently who didn’t even know you could have a business page there. But I agree with the general thought of the article, which is that interest in Google+ is growing.

      – Anita

      • I agree with Anita, Alex. My stream is the same people, over and over. They’re early adopters in the space, and it’s not yet including the wider population.

        Susan

  6. I talked to representatives from Google at the Media Days in Gothenburg, Sweden. They want it to be the next version of Google, not only a new social media tool or me-too Facebook clone. For me personally, Google+ is not a part of my daily routine yet. But I like to use the +1 button as a bookmarking service. I am reading Chris Brogan’s book, Google+ for business at the moment and I will order Guy Kawasaki’s book on Google+ in the near future.

    I bet is that Google+ will have a great role for marketers in the future.

    • Martin–
      Thanks for sharing. Maybe that’s the problem; many of us can’t envision a social network that is wrapped up with search and everything else…yet.

      Susan

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