Do Small Business Owners Understand What Google+ Is?

Filed in Social Media by Matt McGee on October 17, 2012 15 Comments

google-plus-red-128Short answer: I don’t think so.

You may see a few articles and blog posts today citing the latest (the company that bought Merchant Circle last year) small business survey, and this is another.

The survey of more than 3,400 SMBs covered a lot of topics, from politics to business conditions to mobile marketing and — what I’m focusing on — a couple questions about social media marketing.

Small business owners were asked to indicate what channels/sites they use — first, what free social media marketing they do, and then what paid social media marketing they do. I’m writing this in advance of the study being made public, and I suspect much will be made of the survey showing that more SMBs (49.2 percent) are using Google+ than Twitter (32.8 percent).

That may be the case, particularly if you’re counting the not-yet-fully-integrated Google+ Local Pages into the mix as part of Google+.

But when asked about pay services, a full 12.6 percent indicated that they’re paying to use Google+. Say what??

See both questions and responses below:


Unless I’m having a complete brain-melt (always a possibility), there’s nothing a SMB can pay for right now when it comes to marketing on Google+. Is there?

I suspect that 12.6 percent is AdWords (and AdWords Express) customers who may think that the “Google+” option on the survey meant “Google, plus all Google services.” They don’t seem to understand that Google+ is itself a Google product. And if that’s the case, Google still has a lot of education to do when it comes to Google+ and small business owners.

Comments are open: Am I misinterpreting the statistics above?

Comments (15)

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  1. My place of employment has and uses G+, (only because I’m in charge of the office). I try to stay active on there personally, and from the business side as well.

  2. Stever says:

    Matt, there is a “social” ad extension within Adwords to incorporate your G+ profile into your ads. I presume it’s simply an extra link in the ad to take a user to your G+ page instead of your advertised landing page. Why anyone would pay out on Pay Per Click ads to send a user to G+ is beyond me but maybe some SMBs are counting that as payed services for G+? But I suspect the bulk of that 12.6% are just confused.

  3. I agree. I don’t think the study was conducted well. I speak with advertisers all the time who say the use or have used “Google” but they couldn’t be more specific if you offered them money. Someone internally or otherwise has told them the budget is being spent on Google advertising and that is all they need to know. I would discount all the data as it relates to Google +

  4. Matthias says:

    I was recently contacted by someone who wanted to create and maintain a G+ Local page for us – plus pages in business directories like qype etc. So I guess some people must be paying for marketing on G+.

  5. Hi Matt,
    I may be wrong but there is a possibility that some smart marketeers have sold smb’s the service of managing G+ on their behalf.
    Life is all about selling & someone would had sold the service of “Managing G+” to somebody.
    For the one who paid for this task this free Social Media Platform becomes “paid” then 🙂
    Also an interesting is these type of business owners are almost double than those who are paying for managing Facebook.
    Facebook has other avenues where in a user has to shell out money to promote a business.

  6. Yes Matthias above has it right. Local search companies are charging $300 per month and more to “maintain” a Google Plus account. Don’t think there’s much to “maintain” after the initial content and info is uploaded.

  7. Mary Baum says:

    I was in a meeting of Chamber members the other dat and one was one of these outfits that claim to submit sites to 1000 places you can get found online. I readily admit that seo is not one of my strengths – I probably need a remedial seo course, considering my general level of web competence. But I sure know enough to know that she’s peddling 100% unadulterated cow pies! In fact, that’s my whole problem with the topic. I’m pretty sure it’s all cow pies.

  8. Nothing quick fix works online 🙂
    If this starts happening the god’s (search engines) will go out of business.
    Their primary job is to make sure that nothing quick fix gets rewarded.
    Trust building as Matt says in the key & his Infographic on Trust Building is awesome.

  9. B. Rex says:

    I can’t imagine that too many companies are paying to have their + pages managed. But that, combined with Matt’s assumptions, probably explain it. It’s a shame that more people don’t appreciate Google+. I think it’s a fantastic tool.

  10. Matt:

    Google does a horrible job of branding because they’re always changing the names of their products and services. Places (then Google+ Local), Google Docs (then Google Drive), Google Apps (then Google Play), and on and on. Then to confuse things even more you have Google+, Google+ Local, Google+ Business pages, AdWords, AdWords Express…lol. It’s a joke.

    Aside from those issues, I think SMB’s are paying for those Google services that local SEO consultants like myself would charge for – things like managing their AdWords campaigns or setting up and optimizing their Google+ Local page (aka Google Places). While I agree the latter service doesn’t require any ongoing maintenance, there are initial upfront fees. At any rate, I suspect that when these SMBs say they are paying for Google+ they are referring to these types of services.

    Travis Van Slooten

  11. Stever says:

    Travis is right. Horrible branding decisions. Changing names on products creates confusion especially when the previous name was more descriptive of what the service is or does.

    For some users Google is just Google, regardless of the sub-brand, pluses or minuses. I even have clients who I’ve been managing SEO and PPC for 4 years and they still don’t quite grasp the difference between their organic rankings and their paid ad positions.

    Based on all the above comments, 12.6% of SMBs think they are paying somebody something vaguely related to some sort of Google service.

    I think then the same survey saying 49.2% are using G+ as free platform to promote their business actually means about 50% are using Google in some way, but maybe not specifically G+.

    Meanwhile, the percentages reported using Facebook and Twitter (Free or paid) are probably pretty accurate as there far less confusion about those social networks.

  12. June says:

    I set up and optimize Google+ Local for many of my clients. So many of them have not heard of G+ and do not have the time to set it up or update it. We charge a small fee for the year (a lot less than $300 a month mentioned above)We add specials on a monthly basis (restaurants), send them monthly reporting and reviews.

  13. Hi June,
    What are the typical components of your reporting on G+ Local?

  14. Matt McGee says:

    Thanks for the excellent conversation here, everyone – very cool. Seems like we almost have a consensus that the Google+ number is suspicious.

    Mary – you’re saying you think SEO as a whole is “cow pies”? 🙂

  15. June says:

    Hello Nikhil… We send total impressions, clicks to website, clicks for more information and number of reviews. The customer can respond to reviews directly OR send us the response and we will post them.

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