Google Plus users don’t spend much time on the social network. They’re only on the Google Inc.-owned social network for about seven minutes a month on average, far less than the six hours per month Facebook users spend on the world’s largest social network, according to a new report from Forrester Research Inc.
But even though Google Plus can’t compete with Facebook’s activity, it can still be a valuable marketing tool, according to the report, “The Case for Google Plus.” For example, the report finds that 22% of U.S. online adults say they use Google Plus at least once a month, the same percentage that say they use Twitter. That finding is based on a Forrester online survey of 61,104 online U.S. adults conducted in April 2013.
Google Plus also helps generate nearly twice as much engagement as Twitter —in the form of +1s, the social network’s equivalent of a Facebook Like, and comments. On average, 0.069% of a brand’s Google Plus followers engage with each of its posts—nearly twice Twitter’s 0.035% average engagement rate and not far off Facebook’s 0.073% average rate.
That’s not to mention Google Plus’s search engine optimization benefits. Google features brands’ Google Plus posts on the right-hand side of its search results page. Those Google Plus posts may help boost a brand’s search engine rankings for consumers who follow the brand on the social network, the report says.
But despite those benefits, 12 of the 50 large brands Forrester examined in its “Q1 2014 U.S. Top Brands Social WebTrack” report don’t have an official Google Plus page. Another six built pages but did not post to them in February, when the consultancy studied them. That represents missed opportunities, writes report author Nate Elliott, vice president, principal analyst at Forrester.
“I believe every marketer should use Google Plus,” he writes in a blog post.
Marketers can start by posting the same content they share on Facebook to Google Plus. That tactic has helped retailers like Louis Vuitton generate a 0.112% Google Plus engagement rate and a 0.099% Facebook rate—both of which are far above the average rates, the report says.
Retailers also should promote their Google Plus accounts on their sites, e-mails and everywhere else they promote their Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest accounts, Elliott writes.
Many large online retailers are not doing so, according to data available on Internet Retailer’s Top500Guide.com. For example, only 266 of the 500 largest online merchants in North America—or about 53%—feature the Google Plus +1 button on their product pages, which makes it easy for shoppers to share products with their friends on the social network. For the sake of comparison, 496 feature Facebook’s Like button, 326 feature a Twitter Tweet button and 308 feature a Pinterest Pin It button.