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Google Plus: Failure to Launch?

December 5, 2012

Under pressure from enthusiastic businesses, Google quickly followed its public launch in September 2011 with the roll out of new business pages. But did that early enthusiasm translate into ongoing action – or has Google Plus still to take off?

Google tell us there are 400 million Google Plus users, of which 100 million use the service once a month. Using Google Plus once a month can’t really be said to make someone an ‘active’ user in any meaningful sense. It’s also quite likely many of these users are only there for free video chat.

Are businesses managing to connect with customers? It’s hard to say. Debenhams is one brand using Google Plus consistently. Through a mix of sales messages plus links to videos and blogs on style topics, Debenhams has attracted 22,882 followers - yet rarely gets more than a handful of +1s for posts. Amazon seems to have given up posting, whilst B & Q’s Google Plus page shows a message saying they are still figuring out how to best use the tool. This seems to be a common problem. Even those brands that are using Google Plus are rarely doing anything they don’t already do on Facebook.

Cadbury, however, is one example of a business showing some creativity. A recent session using the video chat Hangout tool gave people the chance to participate in a live chocolate tasting and ask questions of a professional chocolate taster. Although only nine people can participate live, others can comment, and you can automatically upload a recording of the session on YouTube. With a little imagination from social media teams, this concept could well grow.

When Google Plus was launched, Google Chief Executive Larry Page announced the goal was to make sharing on the web like sharing in real life and to improve the overall Google experience. These vague aspirations go some way towards explaining the fact so many people seem to be struggling to find practical uses for the platform.

However, Google are making it clear they see being late to market as an opportunity to find out what people like and don’t like in other social networks, and to provide something that meets unfilled needs. It’s still early days. If Google really can find that unmet need, Google Plus could still surprise us all.

Posted by Jenni Malley
Social Media


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