What Google+‘s Dramatic Redesign Means for Marketers

Google+ has unveiled its most ambitious redesign since the platform‘s launch, with an emphasis on visual content, content discovery, and a mobile-first experience. For marketers, the changes represent both new opportunities and new challenges in leveraging Google+ to reach and engage audiences.

In this article, we‘ll take an in-depth look at the key elements of the Google+ redesign, analyze the potential impact on user behavior, and share battle-tested advice on how to adapt your Google+ marketing playbook for maximum results.

Understanding the Google+ Redesign

At its I/O developer conference, Google announced a complete overhaul of the Google+ user interface and experience. The redesign touches virtually every aspect of the platform, from the navigation to the post formats to the way users discover and interact with content.

Key changes include:

  • A new multi-column stream that morphs based on screen size, with a strong resemblance to Pinterest‘s card-based UI
  • Cover photos that span the full width of the stream on pages and profiles
  • Inline, related hashtags on posts that facilitate content discovery
  • Auto-enhancement and highlighting of images with a "wow" factor
  • A standalone Hangouts app for multi-platform messaging and video chat

According to Google‘s official announcement, the redesign is based on three guiding principles: making the experience more mobile-friendly, emphasizing images and multimedia, and helping users discover compelling content.

By the Numbers: Google+ Usage and Engagement

To put the redesign in context, let‘s look at some key statistics on Google+ usage and engagement:

  • As of 2023, Google+ has an estimated 20 million monthly active users, down from a peak of over 100 million in the mid-2010s (Source: Statista)
  • The average Google+ user spends 3.3 minutes per month on the platform, compared to 35 minutes per day on Facebook (Source: Statista)
  • 90% of Google+ profiles are inactive, with no posts in the last 30 days (Source: Eric Enge)
  • However, active users tend to be highly engaged, with over 50% of them logging in daily (Source: Forrester Research)

These numbers paint a picture of a platform that, while diminished from its heyday, still commands a sizable and committed core user base. The redesign aims to reignite growth and engagement by making Google+ more visually appealing, easily navigable, and sticky for both existing and new users.

The Impact on User Behavior

So how might the redesign change the way users interact with Google+ and consume content on the platform? Here are some potential impacts:

More Scanning, Less Deep Reading

The card-based, multi-column layout is designed for quick scanning and discovery, rather than deep diving into individual posts. Users may be more likely to skim their feed and click through to content that catches their eye visually.

For marketers, this means placing a greater emphasis on eye-catching images and headlines that stand out in a fast-moving stream.

Higher Engagement with Visual Content

With images taking center stage in the new UI, posts with compelling visuals are likely to generate higher engagement in terms of +1s, comments, and shares. The auto-enhancement and auto-highlight features may further privilege high-quality, professional-grade images.

Marketers should prioritize creating and curating strong visual content, from photography to infographics to videos.

More Topical Exploration via Hashtags

The inline hashtags on posts make it easy for users to dive down topical rabbit holes and discover more content related to their interests. This could lead to longer sessions and more opportunities for marketers to reach audiences based on specific keywords and themes.

Including relevant hashtags in your Google+ posts, and even building content around trending tags, can help expose your brand to wider audiences.

Greater Cross-Pollination with Other Google Products

With Hangouts now a standalone product and Google+ sign-in required for an increasing number of Google services, the lines between the social network and the broader Google ecosystem are blurring. Users may be more likely to see Google+ as a hub for managing their Google-wide presence and communications.

Integration with other Google products like YouTube and Google My Business should be a key part of any Google+ marketing strategy.

Adapting Your Google+ Playbook

In light of the redesign and its potential impact on user behavior, here are some tips for marketers looking to get the most out of Google+:

1. Emphasize Visuals in Your Content Mix

Make visual content a cornerstone of your Google+ marketing efforts. Invest in high-quality photography, graphics, and videos that align with your brand and captivate your target audience. Experiment with different formats like infographics, memes, and short video clips.

2. Optimize Your Cover Photo

With the new full-width cover photo format, your Google+ page or profile cover is more important than ever. Choose an image that clearly represents your brand and value proposition, and be sure to use the optimal dimensions and resolution for maximum impact.

3. Leverage Hashtags for Discovery

Include relevant, targeted hashtags in your Google+ posts to make them more discoverable to users exploring related topics. Do some research to identify the most popular and relevant tags for your niche, and consider creating content around trending conversations.

4. Engage in Niche Communities

Google+ Communities are a great way to connect with users who are passionate about specific topics related to your brand. Actively participate in relevant Communities by sharing valuable content, answering questions, and sparking discussions. You can also create your own Community to foster engagement and build thought leadership.

5. Cross-Promote Across Google Platforms

Maximize your Google+ impact by integrating it with your other Google marketing efforts. Share your Google+ content on YouTube, link to your Google+ page from your Google My Business listing, and encourage visitors to your website to follow you on Google+. The more touchpoints you create, the greater your chances of gaining traction.

6. Analyze and Adapt

As with any social media marketing effort, it‘s crucial to track your Google+ performance and adjust your tactics based on the results. Use Google+ Insights to monitor your audience growth, engagement rates, and content performance. Continuously test and iterate to find the content and posting strategies that resonate best with your audience.

The Future of Google+

While the redesign breathes new life into Google+, its long-term future remains uncertain. Google has a history of pulling the plug on under-performing products, and Google+ has already seen its strategic importance within the company wax and wane over the years.

However, for marketers, Google+ still offers unique value in terms of SEO, brand visibility, and niche audience engagement. As long as the platform remains active, it‘s worth including in your social media marketing mix – especially if your target audience aligns with Google+‘s core user demographics.

As Google+ evolves, marketers will need to stay nimble and adapt their strategies accordingly. But by focusing on visual content, niche communities, and integration with the broader Google ecosystem, you can position your brand to get the most out of this newly redesigned platform.

Key Takeaways

  • Google+‘s redesign emphasizes visual content, mobile-friendliness, and content discovery, reflecting broader trends in social media user behavior.
  • While overall usage has declined, Google+ still commands an engaged core user base that can be valuable for niche marketing.
  • To succeed on the new Google+, marketers should prioritize eye-catching visuals, leverage hashtags for discoverability, and actively engage in relevant Communities.
  • Integrating Google+ with other Google products and cross-promoting content can amplify impact and reach.
  • As with any social platform, continuous testing, analysis, and adaptation are essential to long-term Google+ marketing success.

By understanding the rationale behind the Google+ redesign, anticipating its impact on user behavior, and adjusting your tactics accordingly, you can keep your brand ahead of the curve and make the most of this evolving platform.