Is Google+ Worth the Time and Energy for Tech Brands?

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Many tech writers and leaders have dismissed Google+ as yet another failure in Google’s social endeavors. They say it’s a ghost town, and that even though Google keeps adding new features, it will never be a successful social space.

However, some pundits such as Scott Monty, head of digital communications at Ford, believe Google+ is a unique platform worth engaging in. Thought leaders are arguing on both sides of the Google+ fence, and tech brands should consider the arguments of both.

After all, think back to when Google+ launched last summer. Tech pundits went wild, measuring the pros and cons of the new network. Now that the hubbub has subsided (okay, died), we reevaluate the pros and cons of investing your time and energy in the social network.

PROS:

- Search Discovery
In January, Google updated their search function, including Google+ posts in general search results. This means that with a Google+ account, your brand is more likely to come up as an answer to a customer’s search query. Better yet, if a customer’s friend +1s a branded post or mentions your brand, that recommendation could also show up in the customer’s search results. You may say, “Well, that will never happen, no one’s using it,” but in June, Google reported 150 million active monthly users.

- Audience Targeting
Google+’s Circles feature allows its users to separate connections into categories like “Potential Partnerships,” “Valued Customers,” and “Potential Investors,” for example. When you share a piece of content, you can designate it for one of those specific circles. While your customers might want to see product updates and promotions, investors are more interested in press and memos. Google+ makes it easy to appease various audiences.

- Efficient Collaboration
Hangouts may be the coolest feature of Google+. It’s a group video chat function that enables fluidity in conversation. People can join or leave freely depending on the chat’s settings. Whether business partners are chatting from across seas or employees work remotely, Google+ Hangouts brings everyone together into the same room. “Google+ Hangouts is an incredibly powerful feature for learning and collaborating on projects,” Stuart McHenry, president of McKremie, told Daily Tekk.

CONS:

- Usability
The problem with Google+, says Social Media Coach Janet Fouts, is that it’s “still painful to use.” The most important aspect of technological tools is their usability. If Google+ doesn’t get more streamlined, Fouts argues, their user base will fade away. Mashable’s guide to Google+ agrees: “It has a lot of features that may confuse beginners. Even advanced users can get mixed up in the changing channels and moving parts of Google+.”

- Minimal Engagement
It’s certainly possible to make a big impact on Google+. Some tech gurus, such as Robert Scoble, have amassed large followings and see more traction on Google+ than on any other platform. But such cases are the exceptions rather than the rule. According to recent research by RJMetrics, the average post on Google+ has less than one +1, less than one reply, and less than one reshare. Thirty percent of users who make a public post never make a second one. The users that do make publicly-viewable posts only do so once every 12 days.

Sounds boring, right? Though Google+’s user base is growing, that doesn’t mean anything is happening on the platform.


So what should your brand do?
 Google+ has potential. It’s worth establishing a presence on the network, both to take advantage of the boost it will give your search results and to be sure you have a leg up if Google+ does take off one day. Google appears to be committed to improving Google+, and though Google has had some notable failures over the years, it’s never a great idea to doubt the search giant. But at this stage, there’s little justification for committing significant resources to Google+. Instead, brands should keep a close eye on Google’s next moves, while prioritizing social networks with more active user bases.