David Leonhardt’s SEO and Social Media Marketing

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Who uses Google Plus?

So much talk online about the growing popularity of Google Plus, even while all your real-world friends are still on Facebook.  Let’s look at exactly who is using Google Plus.

There is a lot of background chatter online about Google Plus, and whether 2014 is the year that it replaces Facebook as the social network of choice.  I have seen a few smirky cartoons and signs about people leaving Facebook for Google Plus.

Why join Google Plus?

I have even written about how Facebook gave Google an orgasm not long ago.

Notwithstanding the chatter, I do not predict that Google Plus will eclipse Facebook this year.  The statistics still show that Facebook is way ahead of Google Plus, and that even if Google Plus accelerates its growth, Facebook should still dominate by the end of 2014.

Facebook still dominates social media usage.

Of course, both sites have been found guilty of cooking user stats:

“Google+ may have 540m monthly active users, but this year they disclosed that this takes into account anyone who clicks on a +1 button that may be embedded on an external page (such as this one). Likewise, Facebook also takes into account anyone who clicks on a like or share button on any external site, meaning that you don’t have to use Facebook directly to be considered one of its monthly active users.”

Never mind the stats.  If you go out onto the street and talk to “real people” – I mean people who don’t use the words “social media” in everyday conversation and who might not even know what the term means -  they are almost all on Facebook. They are there because that’s where extended family and friends (people they know in the real world) all are.  They won’t switch social networks easily because no other social network has what Facebook has – their real-world family and friends.

Many of these people have also heard of Twitter, thanks to mainstream media coverage in the news and promotion through shows like American idol.

Few of these people have even heard of Google Plus.

Until these people are given a very compelling reason to leave, Facebook will retain the upper hand.

Who’s on Google Plus now?

But a lot of people are using Google Plus anyway, and maybe you should be boosting your Google Plus mojo to reach those people.  Just who are those people?

 


 

 

Disaffected Facebook users.

There are many reasons people are leaving Facebook.  Some studies say that Facebook makes us feel bad about ourselves. Others suggest that Facebook’s privacy and ethics policies are driving them away. I know of people who are upset with the ads and sponsored posts that are invading their streams, although I have yet to hear any “real people” (offline friends and family) comment about this. Will Google Plus be any better on any of these points? Only time will tell.

 

And down she goes.

Smirky cartoon that has been doing the rounds on Google Plus

 

But who are these disaffected Facebook users?  They seem to cut across all ages, although they tend to be more men than women.  Which ones are moving to Google Plus? That is even harder to tell, since so many disaffected Facebook users might not be “leaving” one platform for another, but simply spending more time on Google Plus and less time (or no time at all) on Facebook.

But many of them fit into the groups below.

Artists and photographers.

This is almost a no brainer.  If you have images you want to share online, Facebook just doesn’t cut it. Facebook gives you very little control over images, clipping them automatically.  See what Facebook did to my New Year’s message:

Facebook hacked up my pic

Sharing pics on Twitter is not ideal, partly because of the 140 character limit to describe the image, and partly because the pic doesn’t show up unless you open the tweet.  Here is my New Year’s tweet:

How Twitter shows and image

Here is how most people saw it:

How most people see a tweet with an image.

Google Plus works just perfectly for sharing images, whether you are a photographer, and artist or just someone who like sharing lolcats.  And you can easily describe the picture in as much detail as you wish.  See the difference it made with my New Year’s message:

How an image appears on Google Plus

It is worth noting that for really large images, Google Plus gives extra width, so they sometimes span across two columns.  That makes for some superb online vistas.

Marketers.

This has suddenly become a no-brainer.  Small businesses and online marketers were recently told by Facebook that they are unwelcome.  Not officially, of course, but if you read my recent post on Facebook’s antics, it is clear that they have made the Facebook climate inhospitable for supporting small business life forms.

I am seeing more and more of these people – people just like you, perhaps? – heading over to Google plus. So it’s a great place to network with like-minded marketers, develop relationships, partnerships and collaboration.  But is it a good place to sell to them?  Time will tell.

Europeans.

As Google Plus grows so quickly, I suspect the data is changing quickly.  Nevertheless, you can expect Google Plus users to come from similar places as those on Facebook and Twitter.  My own experience, however, shows that Google Plus is skewed more toward Europeans.

If I remove the local bias in Facebook (so many fellow Canadian offline friends, former friends and family), both Facebook and Twitter tend to be USA-centric, followed by India, after which would be UK and Canada (at least for English speakers).

I do not find myself interacting with a lot of people from Italy, Spain, France, Greece, etc. on Twitter and Facebook.  But on Google Plus, I do.  Perhaps it is just that the avid sharing photographers tend to be Mediterranean, or it might just be an accident of a couple circles I was included in early on.  But I find much less participation from India, and Asia in general, on Google Plus that I find on Twitter and Facebook.

I also find the content split to be interesting.  Very few Europeans seem to be sharing links to blog posts, whereas that seems to be what I see the majority of Americans and Indians sharing.

Google Plus cartoon

Perhaps you have a different experience on Google Plus, in which case please share it in the comments below.  My own observations might be too narrow-based on which to draw any useful conclusions.

Have I missed any important segments?  Are there other large, identifiable groups blazing trails on Google Plus?  Please let me know (and your fellow readers, as well) in the comments below.

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18 Responses to “Who uses Google Plus?”

  1. Histerius (2 comments) Says:

    Very good article. As some from Google once said “G+ is maybe a ghost town but there’s a lot of ghosts.” I’d add, it’s still full of ghosts. We are as a company on G+ since the very beginning and see no use of it. Groups are small, big brands are big as anywhere else, and even they are without new posts for days, weeks and even months. So, the level of engagement is very low, we don’t even bother to spend the time on G+ every day.

  2. Andrew Harasewych (2 comments) Says:

    Histerius, can’t agree with you whatsoever. What is your company page link on Google+? I’d love to give you some pointers.

  3. Social Media Strategy (2 comments) Says:

    Ah, it’s +Poandpo
    I see your page, and I’m not too surprised. It’s all Hootsuite activity (made obvious with the shortener) – and there is no personality whatsoever. Some of the links don’t even have any additional text to explain the post, or encourage discussion or sharing. Perhaps changing it up from time to time – link posts are important for SEO, certainly, but image posts get shared more – perhaps 1 out of 3/4 posts to articles should use a particularly shareable image instead of a link attachment, and include the link in the text of the post. Start getting involved in communities. There are MANY active political communities which put your posts right in front of the people who want to see them. As well as getting more creative with the text content of your posts, as I mentioned, you tend to have either link litter with no description, or just a rehash/copy paste of the title of the link. That’s boring, and it’s impersonal, and people typically will not respond to it. The best posts on Google+ generally have a little work put into them. Anyway. That is the tip of the iceberg. Message me on Google+ or just join the social media strategy community on Google+ to learn more. (Community linked above as name on comment) -Andrew

  4. Gail Gardner (2 comments) Says:

    We should definitely get more serious about G+ in a hurry – but always use it to bring people back to our own sites. I would recommend being active in the strongest communities that allow links. I wrote about some of them in the post I wrote for Social Implications and those have gotten even larger.

    Members of our collaboration can also find those on the G+ sharing board.

  5. Elizabeth Crane (1 comments) Says:

    I’ve been on Google+ almost since the beginning but very seldom used it until the last few months. Google Authorship was the main reason why I started using it more regularly. In that same period of time I grew a little tired of Facebook and now rarely take a peak to see what is going on there.

    G+ has a way to go but I completely agree with your article. We’ll see what 2014 brings us and who actually uses Google Plus.

  6. Erik Emanuelli (5 comments) Says:

    I am between the ones who like sharing lolcats on Google+, David.
    On caturday this kind of picture goes pretty viral. :-)

    I think between Twitter, Facebook or Google+, it really depends on the kind of audience you have.
    I think you may receive different results with the same post, submitting it to these 3 major social networks.
    I know it, because from my experience.

    Thanks for sharing the article, David.
    Have a great beginning of year!

  7. Amaury Baot (2 comments) Says:

    I think in term of marketing and SEO, google plus is really more profitable then facebook, it can only expand while facebook is not really expanding.
    Facebook is still more used for social sharing then google plus in europe at least.

  8. Vernessa Taylor (1 comments) Says:

    I know of people who are upset with the ads and sponsored posts that are invading their streams, although I have yet to hear any “real people” (offline friends and family) comment about this.

    With the holidays just behind us, there were lots of friends and family around. Over a 2-week period, not once did I hear any of them mention Google Plus or Twitter or utter the words “social media” — but they were ALL on Facebook daily.

    I still don’t see many small businesses (not big brands) using G+ in a manner that would lead to sales, consulting gigs, writing assignments. Mostly blog posts, videos and pics. While videos and photos do their bit for social engagement, I tend to agree that engagement in “groups” — even on Facebook and LinkedIn — is the more useful business strategy.

    Good article, David.

  9. Bill Gassett (2 comments) Says:

    Dave – There is no question that Google Plus is the most important of all the social networks. This will be true more than ever moving forward as social signals from this network become a greater ranking factor. As Andrew said in order to make it work you need to use it daily and build relationships with people.

  10. Histerius (2 comments) Says:

    Andrew, thank you very much for the offer but I think we can manage our social presence. We put a lot of time in Google plus with no results whatsoever while Twitter is doing great for us. G+ plus is, as it turns our, just another way for Google to collect some information they need and nothing else.

  11. David Leonhardt (122 comments) Says:

    Hi Histerius.

    I have not looked at your G+ profile and I am running out the door now, but based on what Andrew says, it sounds like you are running a Twitter campaign on Twitter and a Twitter campaign on G+. Just on the surface, that sounds like it could be the problem.

  12. Norman Risner (1 comments) Says:

    I setup Google+ accounts for all of my customers who get a website designed from me. I like the fact you can link Google+ page to your Youtube channel and blogger.com page.

  13. Cole Wiebe (3 comments) Says:

    Hi David,

    Well researched and informative. We have had considerable success with Google+, for our own site, and also those of our clients. When a new blog post is released, we are able to monitor the difference in response from Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Linked In. More traffic consistently comes from Google+ and then Twitter. Google+ visitors are more likely to view multiple pages and convert by filling in a form.

    - Cole

  14. Bill Davis (1 comments) Says:

    I am definitely going to use Google+ a lot this year. I kind of just watched from the sidelines since inception, but I have begun using it and interacting a lot more. I like it. Some of the stuff that Google integrates into the platform is awesome – like Google On Air Hangouts.

  15. Social Media Strategy (2 comments) Says:

    Histerious – giving you pointers is not the same as taking you on as a client. I offered advice, that’s all.

    “We put a lot of time in Google plus with no results whatsoever”

    See, the problem here is you are blaming the network, not your approach. You clearly have made your mind up. Good luck with your paper.

  16. Deborah Tutnauer (1 comments) Says:

    I have recently begun spending more time on G+ because as a small business owner, Facebook is frustrating me. It’s a simple as that. Facebook limits who I see in my newsfeed. I have to manually click on individual’s timelines to see what they are up to and there is no way to expand the newsfeed like one used to be able to do, to literally see every post of every person in my friends list in real time. Some say that would be overwhelming. I say, if I decided they are my “friends” I want to see their activity – not just the 10% or less that FB decided was interesting to me.

    With G+I can see all that goes on in any of my circles with just the click of a button.
    I’m not always a Google fan…so G+ was a leap for me. But again, as a small business owner on Facebook i now must pay to play. My Fan page posts are seen by almost no one unless I boost them. And even then, Facebook will often pop up a Spam warning out of the blue…driving away my relationships before they even begin. This last point is a huge issue right now on FB with thousands of small businesses and to my knowledge, the computer bot that flags these things has not been fixed.

    Is G+ easy to negotiate like FB? No it’s not. I don’t thing G+ has the same fun social feel as FB. But for business relationships, I feel right now that it could ultimately be much better.

  17. Daniel (4 comments) Says:

    I love google plus just as much as the next guy but I have always found getting around it to be a slight hassle, I am hoping this will be a kink they will iron out in the future. For connecting with new people at the same time it’s definitely the superior network.

  18. Alex (3 comments) Says:

    I notice entrepreneurs like to use GooglePlus.

    Also (in my observation): People from South America, India, Pakistan, and Southeast Asia

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