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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...

Amazon

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

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.

Apple

It should come as no surprise to anyone that Apple doesn’t have a G+ page.

Walmart

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

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.

Office Depot

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

Sears is another retailer that maintains an extremely active G+ page for limited return. Its updates generally receive fewer than five interactions.

Netflix

In comparison to other brands on this list Netflix appears to overachieve in terms of user interactions on its posts.

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.

CDW Corporation

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

Best Buy has a verified G+ account, however it’s done absolutely nothing with it.

OfficeMax

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

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

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

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.

Costco

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

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.

Victoria’s Secret

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.

JC Penney

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

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.

Gap

Confusingly there are two separate G+ pages for Gap, both of which have been verified. One of them has 149 followers while the other has 925.

Neither of them is active though, with the former having zero posts and the latter sharing its last update back in February 2012.

In conclusion...

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.

David Moth

Published 17 July, 2013 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

1680 more posts from this author

Comments (8)

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Zac

Great article! I believe a lot of companies are having a difficult time finding the value of putting effort and time into their Googe+ Page. Google does put more emphases on Google+ than other social media sites when it comes to SEO, but they have not been as successful when it comes to users. Many businesses can advertise to a greater amount of users using Twitter and Facebook, so these businesses have slowed the growth of their Google+ Page. Why put a lot of effort into a product (Google+) that hasn't been able to compete with Twitter and Facebook?

about 3 years ago

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Caroline

They might care about Google+ in a different way. As a Google Apps Premier Reseller, we're seeing companies of all sizes successfully launch and use Google+ not only for external communications but also as a collaborative communications tool within their own enterprises (since you can set permissions allowing posts only from certain users and that are only viewable to certain users).

about 3 years ago

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Henri

Good strategy from Apple.
I believe it has such a strong brand and such loyal fans that it doesn't need to appear on any social network.

Instead, it can pull in all its fans to its site directly.

Why spread itself thin on other sites when all it needs is a single unique apple.com entity that everyone recognises?

about 3 years ago

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James

Day-to-day people are in the habit of checking Facebook and Twitter, but habits do change and it will grow in terms of interactions. The main question is will it affect Search Engine Ranking and how?

about 3 years ago

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Man About It

I've tried G+ on many occasions for good social inteaction or anything that would take me to another level. Made a couple of in-the-flesh friends. Otherwise, people pay no attention to correspondence. The masses are always extra pumped about stuff like Instagram and Vine.

Google+'s primary popularity seems to lie in being an Android fan love-in.

about 3 years ago

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Colleen, = at =

If you're judging G+ on the same success metrics you would for Facebook (followers, engagements, posting frequency, etc.) then you have completely missed the point of why G+ exists and its value proposition.

about 3 years ago

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Stuart

Re Amazon and their like:
To accumulate thousand of followers (on any network, not just G+) and then suddenly stop posting without giving a reason shows nothing but contempt and a lack of respect to those followers/customers. It's the antithesis of good marketing.

about 3 years ago

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Elly

Thanks for posting this, I've been looking into using Hangouts a bit more - maybe this is a better option than having to manage yet another social media platform. @Colleen in earlier comment, I'd be interested to know what you mean by
"then you have completely missed the point of why G+ exists and its value proposition."
What do you believe G+ value proposition is?

about 3 years ago

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