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Why don’t more people include brands in their Google+ Circles?

by Nigel Hollis | February 29, 2012

ClickZ, recently reported research by BrightEdge, suggesting that a small number of brands were building up steam on Google+. 

The research found that while the number of people including brands in their Circles had grown, that growth was dominated by brands like Coca-Cola, Starbucks, eBay, and Amazon. No surprise there, but the article posits a number of conclusions related to this phenomenon that are worth considering, and suggests the following:

  1. Google+’s roughly 100 million users are not yet looking to engage with brands
  2. Users are not engaging much with the platform in general
  3. Brands haven't yet figured out their Google+ strategies

The article then asks one more pertinent question. Given that BrightEdge used Millward Brown's Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands in its study, is that actually representative of brands that are popular on Google+? It is a fair question, and I think the obvious answer is that while the Top 100 will represent large, well-liked brands, it will not be as representative of smaller, well-liked brands. Therefore, brands like Converse, Victoria Secret and The North Face, are not going to make the list.

Now, I have to admit that I don’t look at my Google+ account very regularly,  because Facebook still dominates my social media life (see a previous post of mine). When I did check Google+ a couple of days ago, what did I find? Mostly business and social media related comments, with the notable exception of a trailer for the Pixar movie, “Brave.” (Thanks Gary, and yes, Pixar is still the very best.) 

Somehow, I can’t quite get worked up about posts related to social media on a social media site. So, based on my own experience, I would suggest that conclusion number two offered by ClickZ (users are not engaging much with the platform in general) seems most likely. 

However, I doubt that lack of use is the only reason why people are not including brands in their Circles. I am pretty sure that many users just don’t want to engage with brands. After all, I suspect that many people decided to sign up for Google+, as much to signal their antipathy to Facebook, as a genuine interest in the new network. Concern over Facebook’s dominance, privacy policies and the growing presence of brand activity on the network, may well have caused people to jump ship. And, if so, why on earth would they then include brands in their Circle of friends?

Still, this might be making a mountain out of a molehill. A quick Google search suggests that just as Facebook dominates my share of online social time, so too it dominates the share of visits to social networks. Hitwise research shows that Facebook has a share of 62.75 percent of visits compared to only 0.45 percent for Google+. My bet, is that the majority of  Google+ users are also on Facebook, and just can’t be bothered to use both on an active basis.

So what do you think? Please share your thoughts. 


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  1. Eduardo Carvajal, March 01, 2012
    I think that in order to make the brand's friendship penetration among Google+ users, brands need to be as friends, allies, not just an image...such brands that interact with Google+ users, should be something that is constantly publishing significant events, posts, real time video streams or podcasting in a more social way rather than commercial way (make a brand a true friend).

    This last statement seems at first sight quite utopic, rather unreal...and although most of these actions are already been done on would be a great opportunity to brands to reach those who don't really like Facebook (why on earth would you move to another social network that is not facebook?).

    I am not a fan of Google+, and Google has tried out social networking penetration beafore (as well as others) and has failed...however, when the myspace boom was at its top, nobody thought that people would be moving to another social home.....we'll just have to see how Google will surprise us in the future, and how Facebook is going to screw up (new Timeline interface in my point of view is a HUGE FAIL) reminds me of Hi5 in LATAM.
  2. Drew, March 01, 2012
    I think the whole concept of adding brands to your circles seems a bit weird to me.  Unless I have a circle that's called "Companies I think are cool" then I don't really see the point.  The difference with the Facebook experience with brands is that you can simply like them, similar to the +1 on Google+.  I would have no problem giving brands a +1, but brands are not people, so how would they fit into my circles?  It's not like someone can use Google Hangout to face time chat with a brand/company, and would I really need companies as a separate contact group?  Maybe there's just something I'm not getting here, but just thought I'd express my viewpoint.

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