Why Google+ might be the best place for branding (or not)

Here at Smoking Gun PR we’re permanently scouring the web for information about the latest trends in digital public relations, social media, and online marketing. So a recent piece on Read, Write, Web, made for some interesting coffee-break reading.
In The Brand Pages Faceoff Richard MacManus, founder of said blog which looks at the changing face of the internet, writes a brief comparison between the use of Facebook and Google+¬†for business now that the latter has opened its ‘brand pages’ service. Focusing on case studies of Mercedes Benz and BMW (two choices made due to the relatively high loyalty amongst luxury car owners), the article highlights key differences between the two platforms, but perhaps most importantly of all, it also points to ways in which the newest social network can trump the biggest, as oppose to simply playing catch up.
We’ve blogged earlier this year under the title Facebook numbers fall in key territories, which is pretty self-explanatory. And while it’s difficult to gather concrete information on the exact reasons why, it’s equally hard not to speculate on intrusion and irrelevance being major factors people have taken an issue with. This is a point MacManus jumps on, as he explains Google+ may be able to avoid going the way of the Book by keeping things clean, concise, and, for want of a better word, intimate. Which isn’t to say there aren’t millions of accounts already opened.
But, in the case of BMW for example, the company has some 6.7million Facebook fans, and the page carries unregulated content. As such spam and other irrelevant content is commonplace. In comparison, on Google+ the brand only has a few hundred followers, mainly because it has just set up shop, but then with the right management in place this could become a fertile breeding ground for real engagement amongst a sizeable audience. It’s then explained that Mercedes-Benz, on the other hand, monitors and approves 175,000 potential active user posts on its US Facebook page, but only gets engagement levels of 0.25%
In contrast it has been reported that Google+ is far more focused on interaction than hard numbers, with statistics being banded about like a staggering 3.8billion photo uploads since June 28th. Though the brains behind the network would want to distract us with that as a logical defence to questions about the decline in traffic to the site post-launch. However, as Marketing Vox said last month in a feature concerned with similar issues, advertising data analytics specialist Chitika was also in agreement that by concentrating on engagement levels, and therefore offering brands something of a qualitative online presence, as oppose to quantitative, Google+ might just turn around the recent results it so clearly wants us to ignore.