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April 11, 2012

Using Data to Drive Your Google Plus Program

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Estimated reading time:
2 minutes

Top takeaways:
• Use the research tools available to help you understand how to approach your G+ strategy.
• Things like demographics of G+ users and tools to help you see what companies are the most popular and what they are doing on G+ is a good starting point. 
• You can also track the spread of content on G+ down to some very interesting detail to help you know what’s working.

Now that Google+ has been around for a while now, businesses are taking notice. And if they haven’t already, many are considering marketing programs using the G+ community. But like any social medium in its infancy, it’s a Wild West type environment where creativity rules in how to best engage your audience. Luckily, there are companies out there that are offering up data (Google included) to help better steer your efforts. If your business is just getting started on G+, there’s lots to think about. But let’s take a step back to some basics, and look at tools that can help you get a better understanding of who’s on Google+ and what’s working for others.

Examine the Google Plus Demographics

The SEO benefit of integrating with G+ in addition to the potential of how Google+ will impact search might just outweigh if your target market is on there or not. And if they’re not on there now, they may very well be in a year or two, so early adoption can’t hurt. But, understanding the demographics can help you get a clearer picture of how you might approach your strategy.

The following stats are courtesy of PlusDemographics.com. According to this site, which takes its data points only from profiles that have made their public information available, G+ demographics for the United States look something like this:

  • Gender distribution is dominated by men, with approximately 60 percent male and nearly 40 percent female.
  • The majority of users fall in the 18 to 24 age range at about 45 percent, followed by approximately 23 percent in the 25 to 34 age range.
  • The majority of G+ users are employed by the military (Hangouts is probably a big reason for this) along with companies like Google, McDonald’s, Target, Apple, AT&T and Verizon, to name a few.
  • The top occupation includes “student” at a staggeringly higher rate than any other occupation. Photographers are next, followed by software engineers, consultants, teachers, managers, retirees, marketing and some others. 
  • Data show California hosts the most users, followed by Texas then New York, with Chicago and Los Angeles being the top cities with users, followed by Houston, San Francisco, San Diego and Seattle.
  • In the U.S., approximately 38 percent are married and about 32 percent are single (the rest unaccounted for but it’s probably safe to say it’s about half and half based on these numbers alone).
  • Approximately 44 percent of people indicate that they are looking to network on G+.

If you already have a G+ profile, PlusDemographics.com offers a report that promises to give some of the same type of data about your profile (although I have not tried it).

Perform a Competitive Analysis on Google Plus Pages

Have a look at the competition — what are they up to? If not a lot of companies in your space are on G+ yet, look at what the notables are doing, regardless of industry. Follow Googlers like those who are on the Google Plus team; watch their patterns of how they interact and share. No doubt they are closer to the product and its intention than anyone.

Or check out the most-followed brand pages and profiles on G+. Zoomsphere maintains up-to-date information on this, and you can search for recent data based on metrics like followers, country, timelines and type of entity. For example, the most recent data show the top 10 companies in Google+ based on followers are:

  • ESPN
  • Hello Kitty
  • Zagat
  • Glamour
  • Wired
  • Android
  • Starbucks
  • Fiat USA
  • Pepsi
  • Coca-Cola

You can do the same research for people profiles in Zoomsphere; this helps you to get a feel of what’s popular amongst G+ users, what factors might be contributing to that and how those organizations are engaging their community.

Use the Google Plus “Ripples” Analytics Tool

I’m not going to go into a ton of detail on this, because today Jen Lopez of SEOmoz wrote a great piece on managing the Google+ community, where she goes into detail about how the G+ Ripple tool can assist in your research for content performance; but the skinny on this tool is this:

  • You can use Google’s Ripple tool to show how your content is shared. You can access data visualizations for how public posts spread amongst users on Google+. Arrows on the diagrams show the direction of re-sharing, so you can track how the post spreads from user to user. It also gives data on who the top influencers are for that post. You can do this on your own links or others’ content – it’s really quite fascinating.

Below is a video from Google that helps paint a picture of how the tool works:

Got any other tips and tools for using data to drive your Google Plus strategy? Share them with us in the comments below, please!

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4 responses to “Using Data to Drive Your Google Plus Program”

  1. Nick Stamoulis writes:

    Google+ isn’t just another social network. It’s operated by Google and if you know what’s best for your web presence, you will pay careful attention to every move that Google makes. Google+ was created to improve search engine results, so it’s important to have a presence on Google+.

  2. Panis Pieri writes:

    Great article for Google+ . very helpful

  3. Ian Smith writes:

    I could not agree more Nick. The means of ranking in SERPs is changing and this tool is clearly about to play a substantial role. I’m sure many people will see it as just a Facebook Me-Too. Business owners must see it as much more than that.

  4. Jessica Lee writes:

    Thanks Nick, Ian and Panis for your comments on this.

    –Jessica



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