Google+ has long been the black sheep of the Google family, and the broader social media community for that matter. Even Google itself has acknowledged the network’s shortcomings, as former Googler Chris Messina candidly wrote how both he and Google had fudged up. Chris’s word choice was a bit more colorful. And then there was the departure of Google+ creator, Vic Gundotra, in April 2014 – arguably the most ominous sign for the social network’s future at the time. But while Google+ was undoubtedly mishandled early on, it does still possess promise for brands.
For starters, Google+ pivoted in March when Google decided to divide its properties into three distinct components: Streams, Photos and Hangouts. This move not only addressed Google+’s main struggle, but also its real purpose: identity. Google+ was meant to help users to better form an online identity. Yet since its conception, Google+ never had a concrete identity of its own – other than basically being “Facebook by Google.” Most people weren’t entirely sure about what they were supposed to be doing on Google+ to begin with. Then there’s the fact that Google+ was such a late arrival to the social networking game (7 years late compared to
Facebook). Some folks might have been deterred by seeing Google+ as merely a major corporation’s attempt to become hip to social.
Regardless, Google+ is still important for brands and here’s why:
According to a Pew Research Center study from March 2015, nearly half of Hispanic teens use Google+ (48% of Hispanic youth compared to 26% of white teens and 29% of African-American teenagers). Pause. Now consider that information in greater context with U.S. Census Bureau statistics. Since 1970, the Hispanic population has grown 592% (by comparison, the U.S. population overall has grown 56% over the same period). The Hispanic population is also expected to grow by another 86% between 2015 and 2050 (in 2050 there will be approximately 106 million Hispanics in the United States, which is about double what it is today). Clearly, with Hispanic teen usage rates, the reports of Google+’s death have been greatly exaggerated. U.S. Hispanics are the fastest growing ethnic group in the country, fueled mainly by natural domestic growth as opposed to international migration. A more Americanized Hispanic population with an affinity for Google+ is a hidden goldmine for marketers, as Hispanic influence increasingly impacts the cultural mainstream.
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