The number of people following the top 100 brands in the Google+ social network rose 54% to 12 million in the past two months, according to a study released Tuesday. The top 10 brands have more than 9 million followers, accounting for 75% of the Google+ total follower base.
Although the BrightEdge study shows continued growth, the uptick continues to slow from 1400% between December 2011 and February 2012, and 150% between February 2012 and May, 2012.
The top 10 brands on Google+ collectively have three- imes as many followers compared with companies from No. 11 through No. 100 on the list. At No. 1, H&M leads with 1.2 million followers. Toyota takes the No. 2 spot with 1.1 million followers. Google, which was No. 9 in February with 194,000 followers, now sits at No. 2 with 968,000.
"Our brand customers focus on channels from which they can drive measurable traffic and conversions," said Jim Yu, BrightEdge CEO. "Google has Google+ content in their search engine results pages, and Bing has both Facebook and Twitter results in their SERPs. We see brands trying more than one channel."
During Google's Q2 2012 earnings call, Google SVP and Chief Business Officer Nikesh Arora said retail chain H&M increased AdWords campaigns by an average of 22%. About 250 million users have signed up to use the network, which now offers Local features, giving users the ability to share information in about nearly 100 million places and local businesses, like restaurants and museums.
Brands continue to add campaigns and followers at a rapid pace, but growth has slowed since launching one year ago.
Despite slower follow rates by members, the momentum still suggests an industry looking for an alternative to Facebook, according to one industry source. "Brands want to take data out of Facebook to target ads on publisher sites and search engines, but the site remains a walled garden," he said.
Adoption rates points to a rise in the importance of social content in search results, along with the growing adoption of Google+ by brands and users. When searching for companies using brand terms, 30% of brands with Google+ pages have their content serve up in search results, up from 5% in February.
Brands with Google+ pages that come up search results include Accenture, AT&T, FedEx, H&M, Intel, Startbucks and Toyota.
Since Facebook and Twitter launched well before Google+, 90% of the top 100 brands have a Facebook page and 80% of brands have a Twitter presence.