The buzz about Google Plus was grim as 2012 began: “a virtual ghost town compared to Facebook” was how the platform was described in February, as the rapid user growth following its June 2011 launch leveled off — and data revealed that those who signed up were doing little after that. By November 2011, comScore reported that 15.2 million U.S. visitors spent an average of 5.1 minutes per month on Google+ as compared to the average 394 minutes spent on Facebook by over 166 million U.S. visitors.
The Digital IQ Index®: Magazines report released in June by think tank L2 is a study that ranks magazine brands in 11 categories according to their “competence” in adapting to “the increasingly digital landscape.” L2 recently posted details that zero in on the largest magazine communities on Google Plus. Even though many of the brands’ Google Plus communities are larger than their Facebook communities, they’re getting less engagement from Google Plus communities. It appears that this may be simply that the brands are not reaching out as much.
Community Size: Impressive. Engagement? Not So Much.
Noting that the size of many magazines’ Google+ communities is all the more impressive given that Google+ Pages for companies and brands was only launched in November, L2 reveals that the top five magazine brands on Google+ (Glamour, Wired, Time, The Economist and Vogue) have over 1 million members. Of the top five, four have larger communities on G+ than they do on Facebook (12 of the 80 magazines studied have larger G+ communities).
But despite the impressive numbers, Facebook outperformed G+ as measured in likes, shares and comments for the 10 largest Google+ magazine communities — the brands listed above and ELLE, Martha Stewart Living, Entertainment Weekly, InStyle and Motor Trend.
L2 attributes this lack of engagement to the fact that “unlike on Facebook, where brands are conscientious about updating content regularly and engaging meaningfully with fans, on Google Plus, the effort put forth by brands’ page managers is often sporadic and at times, lazy.”
A quick look at the top Google+ magazine communities confirms this. Across the 10 brands, the average number of posts to pages for the August 20-24 business week was under 17, an average of 20 fewer posts than were made to the Facebook pages in the same period.
Of the seven larger communities, only Wired (also the single magazine brand ranked a “Digital Genius” in the L2 study) and Martha Stewart Living gave Google+ and Facebook nearly equal attention.
Interestingly, two of the three smallest communities among the 10 — Motor Trend and InStyle — posted significantly more content to Google+ than the brands with larger communities, nearly matching the number of their posts to Facebook. This does not appear to in itself affect the level of engagement. Motor Trend’s G+ community seems highly engaged, with at least one post in the period receiving over 2,000 +1’s, 875 reshares and 431 comments; no other post to G+ by any of the 10 magazine brands garnered this level of engagement. The InStyle G+ community, fed as well as its Facebook community, is lackluster.
Multiple factors appear to be at work, but are you surprised that many magazines seem to have simply ignored their Google+ communities? Any thoughts to add about the possible why?