From the look of things the South African landscape on Google+ is still more tumbleweeds than anything else.
Brand pages on Google+ are gaining traction in the USA and elsewhere but South Africa doesn’t seem to have taken to it, yet. Traditional social tracking websites like SocialBakers don’t even list SA stats.
I did some quick, not very scientific, analyses of South African brands on Google+ and it’s pretty sorry. On the plus side there are a high number of Brand Pages but they’re all struggling along with little following and engagement. I couldn’t find a brand page that had more than 271 followers (SA Tourism).
Interestingly the big name brands that are successful on Twitter and Facebook like Woolworths, Huisgenoot, Vodacom and Springleap have very little going on on Google+ with each having less than 100 followers (perhaps the better phrasing is they have been circled by less than 100).
The same goes for individuals that have a high profile on other social networks like Gareth Cliff and DJ Euphonik.
In July last year I wrote a review on Google+ and asked the question: Is the social web big enough for Facebook AND Google+. The above tells me that, in South Africa at this time, it is not.
The South African Facebook population is just touching 5 million. This number represents 91% of online South Africans. This high penetration rate will continue as more of our people get online (which they most certainly will). Facebook is by far the king of social networks here. We all know someone that said they have no interest in Facebook and they will never use it. Now they’re updating statuses with the best of them. Through shear weight of time and pressure the platform has an unshakable hold.
The question for the average user then is “what will I get from Google+ that I’m not getting on Facebook?”. The answer right now is nothing.
This is not to say that Google+ is no good. Quite the contrary, I believe there are fantastic opportunities for individuals and brands to have deeper and more meaningful engagement with innovations like Hangout. But this is all for naught if noone is there.
However, with the backing of the Google monolith and the importance that Google+ will play in search the platform will grow and become more and more important. But it’s going to take time and plenty of it. Just yesterday Google announced that searches on Google will include results from your circles on Google+. No doubt this will become more and more important and may be the trigger to get more people using it. Chicken or the egg? Will brands bring the consumers or will the consumers bring the brands? From a brand perspective it wouldn’t be a bad idea to be there when the hoards arrive.
Are you on Google+? What would make you sign up or use it more?