Google+ is set to become the fastest growing online medium in 2012 says Habib Amir, Head of Digital at Clarion

Date: 17 January 2012 15:47

Based on trends observed in the past few years, I make two predictions about how Google+ will affect brands in the near future.

Prediction 1: Search will become more specific, more contextual and more social

Traditionally, online consumer purchase journeys involved purchase decisions being made on the brand website – more recently, even on the brand’s social media page. However, this model is about to change extensively in favour of purchase decisions being made before consumers even reach brand websites or their social media pages. People will actively seek products or services recommended or shared by their network within search results. For example, if I am in your circles on Google+ and you happen to look for a bow tie on Google, you may see my recommendation ranked on the first page of results to inform your decision.

Prediction 2: Brands that are early adopters of Google+ will overtake competitors in search results and therefore in online share of voice

While Facebook is still one of the biggest social networks, with over 800 million users, it’s important to remember that Google is where people begin their internet journey. Google now receives 11.2 billion global searches (source: ComScore) accounting for over 65 per cent of total online searches – and it also serves 98.3 per cent of mobile search queries globally.

Given the fact that the number of websites on the internet has grown in the last four years by 156 per cent to over 273 million, the search market is becoming more and more saturated. As a consequence of this trend, even well-established brands will find it difficult to secure prominent presence in search engine results under their desired keywords.

Having advantaged access to search traffic in a saturated web is great news for all Google products, especially Google+. The platform will attract an unprecedented user base from search results alone – and while existing Google+ features are more than sufficient for brands and their customers to engage with, there is no doubt that new features which incorporate other Google services will be added.

However, timing will make all the difference – early adopters will be rewarded as they overtake their competitors. Take a look at competing brands Coca-Cola and Pepsi for instance: Coca-Cola is far ahead of Pepsi engagement levels on Facebook, but Pepsi is now getting a much better traction on Google+ (Coca-Cola: 1,600. Pepsi: 20,000) as a result of its early adoption and frequent engagement strategy.

If you want to get ahead, make sure you are also an early adopter.

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