While Facebook Changes, Google+ Grows... A Lot

Posted on October 3rd 2011

The topic of conversation in the social media space for the past week or so has been about the changes Facebook announced last week during it f8 Conference. But while the dust is still settling and the love/hate comments continue to pile in, Google+ quitely made some news of its own. 

I, like most of you, waited patiently for the news re: Facebook's latest round of changes. And I, like most of you, am still disseminating just what they all mean for both individuals and brands alike. I wrote a post What The Changes To Facebook Mean To Marketers And Advertisers last week in which I give a high level overview of Timeline and Open Graph and what marketers and advertisers need to do going forward. google+

And while Amazon Wants A Piece Of The Social Media And Social Games Pie and Bing Continues To Add Social Media Features, Google, very quietly some might say - which is shocking considering it's Google, made news over the past week or so by opening up Google+ to the masses and the results have been overwhelming. 

According to data from Experian Hitwise...

  • Visits to Google Plus increased by 1269% following the release of Google+ to everyone
  • In the US alone, Google+ received 15 million visits, compared to the little more than 1 million the week before the grand opening, if you will
  • In Hitwise's Social Networking and Forums category, Google+ rose from 54th to 8th in overall rankings

And as the folks at ReadWriteWeb point out, "That's not all the traffic, either. These stats don't include mobile users or visits from the ubiquitous black Google toolbar. The data still show that Google Plus is disproportionately comprised of "influencers" and "early adopters" compared to other social networks, but the removal of invitations seems to have jump-started visits to the service."

So while Mark Zuckerberg basks in the glow of the Timeline et al, and 500 million daily active users, Google keeps on trucking with the number of users at or around 43 million and growing. Google is also poised to officially announce the creation of the much-anticipated Business Profiles on Google+. In case you missed it, when Google+ first came to be, some brands tried to set up Business Profiles - Mashable, Sesame Street to name a few, only to see Google put the kibosh on them. To date, there are only two officially recognized Business Profiles on Google+ - Ford Motor Company and General Motors. 

However that hasn't stopped some others from cropping up such as Verizon, Snapple and Starbucks. These were apparently "set up surreptitiously by companies, fans or squatters registering the brand name" as reported in Ad Age. But fear not legitimate businesses worried that an impostor is staking its claim, Google is watching... "It's not a land-grab situation," said Google spokesman Jim Prosser. "Right now it's very clear, because there's only two business we're testing with, so in a very binary way, it's clear that anyone who's acting as a business on there [is not authentic]."

Not to belabor the Business Profile topic but one thing to keep in mind when they do become available to everyone and every business, it will not be like Twitter where only account could be created for one given name. If you recall there was a mad land-grab as Twitter became more popular and many big name brands realized they missed the boat and had to either pay for their Twitter handle or create a different one, then slap the Verified Account label on its profile. With Google+ there will be no such limit as one name can be registered multiple times. Google+ will however provide those legitimate businesses and representatives therein with a similar type of verification badges to identify the real from the fake. 

Facebook's World Dominance... For Now

There's a chart (to the right) going around which shows Facebook's dominance in the online space. I first saw it on allthingsd.com and the writer of the post which included the chart uses the line "... Google is so freaked out about Facebook." The writer was referring to the obvious stranglehold Facebook has right now. But call me crazy but I don't think Google isfacebookfreaked out, freaked in or freaked anything when it comes to Facebook or any other social media network or platform. 

Why? Well as Josh Spiegel, one of our Search Marketing Managers likes to say... "Because it's Google."

And you can be damn sure many others are taking the same approach...

"We're always looking at new opportunities to engage our fans. We've been monitoring Google+ since it launched and will actively seek ways to incorporate our brands when the time is right." - Robert Stone, Director of Interactive for the Dr Pepper Snapple Group.

"Given Google's strong track record, both +1 and Google+ are platforms that we are closely watching. We are most interested in +1 because of its potential impact on search." - Michael Zuna, Chief Marketing Officer of Aflac

Sources: Google Images, Ad Age, ReadWriteWeb, All Things Digital, The Star Group, While Facebook Changes, Google+ Grows... A Lot 

steve olenski

Steve Olenski

A regular contributor to Forbes, among other publications, Steve was named one of the Top 100 Influencers In Social Media (#41) by Social Technology Review and a Top 50 Social Media Blogger by Kred. He is a also a member of the Editorial Board for the Journal of Digital & Social Media Marketing and co-author of the book StumbleUpon For Dummies. Follow him on Twitter@steveolenski or at the nearest coffee shop.The views expressed here are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Oracle Marketing Cloud.

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Posted on October 3rd 2011 at 8:40PM

I think the real interesting part will not be when Google+ is open to businesses, but rather what businesses and brands do once it is opened.  So far the type of content that is gaining increases in followers is much more creative and innovative than compared to facebook and twitter.  Because the newness of both of these is worn off and enusers are more savy as to what they want to follow or not, I thingk there will be more in creativitity in the creation of engaging content made specifically for Google+ than there was for blogs, twitter, facebook, etc...

Posted on October 6th 2011 at 2:45PM
So why dont you have a Google+ share button to share your articles? ;)
Rick Noel
Posted on October 6th 2011 at 3:36PM

Gwen Ifill interviewed Google's Eric Schmidt on PBS which aired last night on the News Hour (Video: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2011/10/eric-schmidt-on-google-vs-fa...) , and when asked about whether he felt Google+ could beat Facebook at their own game, Eric positioned Google+ as similar but in "a slightly different space." i.e. change the rules of the game because you know you cannot beat the market leader in a frontal attack.

He also said that Google's approach was to focus on addressing "new problems" and do that much better than they (facebook) are. I think that Google+ will continue to quietly gain traction in Social and the key for them as a company will not to lose foucs/too much search market share to Bing/Yahoo! where Google is still hugely dominant.

According to Hitwise, Google lost 4% US Search Market share last year which seems small given their current 65% share, yet significant in that it is the first time in Google's existance where they have had multiple quarter loss in US Search market share during the last 10 years in their rise to its dominantion. Good for senate hearings, bad for business!

Posted on October 6th 2011 at 4:05PM

@Nicolai: Exactly!

...as for me, I am finding Facebook more and more clumsy, cavalier, and invasive. Google may have its flaws but there are rewards for businesses and nonprofits working with Google that I have yet to discover with Facebook. I would love to be corrected if this is untrue.