Although no Facebook, Google+ is emerging as a great way for brands to connect directly with consumers.
In the last month alone, Google+ fans -- i.e., the number of users in “circles” -- of the world’s top 100 brands grew from 222,000 to 3,100,000. The relative explosion -- recorded by digital marketing platform provider BrightEdge -- represented a 1,400% increase for Google+.
Which brands are making out best? According to BrightEdge, the growth is being driven largely by 10 brands that have established a powerful presence on Google+. The “G+ Ten” account for more than 3 million of the 3.1 million followers, and bring more than 10 times as many followers as brands in the rest of the top 100.
Leading the way, fashion giant H&M now holds the No. 1 slot with 462,000 followers, while Coca-Cola leaped from 1,800 to 336,000 -- a 187x increase -- over the past month. Coke’s direct competitor Pepsi, however, remains narrowly ahead with 350,000 followers.
Other Google+ winners include Samsung -- with 372,000 followers -- Starbucks -- with 335,00 -- Sony -- with 258,000 -- Intel -- with 258,000 -- eBay -- 253,000 -- Google --193,000 -- and Amazon -- with 184,000 Google+ followers, by BrightEdge’s count.
According to BrightEdge CEO Jim Yu, the dominance of a select few brands on Google+ might not bode well for the social network. “While the growth of the G+ Ten is impressive, in contrast we have noticed many companies seem to be taking a slower, wait-and-see stance to the search giant’s social offering,” said Yu.
Top brands that appear to be waiting on the proverbial sidelines include Goldman Sachs, Microsoft and Apple, Yu notes.
That said, in Yu’s opinion, there is tremendous interest among large enterprise players in how Google+ will evolve.
Although BrightEdge data shows that brands are embracing the social networking site, the success of the G+ Ten contrasts with lower activity among “G+ Laggards.”
With search driving continued visibility of Google+, Yu said he expects to see continued consumer adoption of Google+: “But broader brand adoption is still a challenge and increasing attention will be paid to the end-user engagement model.”
How Google expands from its G+ 10 core partners and spreads more broadly across brands will be closely followed by the industry, and how the engagement model involves end-users may impact the rate at which Google adds followers, Yu added.
“Google+ still has less than 1/100th the number of total consumers interacting with the top 100 brands that Facebook has achieved,” he said.