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Google+ grows in importance for retailers

Fashion retailers Asos and Topshop are among the UK retailers increasingly enjoying marketing success on Google+, as the search engine giant's social media platform continues to gain traction.

A study from online marketing research company eDigitalResearch, conducted in mid-June, shows that online fashion house Asos had the most followers on the social platform (2.13 million) – ahead of Topshop (1.75 million), All Saints (1.39 million), Topman (0.88 million) and Net-a-Porter (0.59 million).

For the first time since the launch of the study, Next, Carphone Warehouse and House of Fraser made it into the top 20 in terms of followers, as their Google+ pages continue to develop. The UK's largest grocer, Tesco, was cited as the fastest growing retailer on Google+, having reached nearly 44,000 followers in just a matter of months since its launch.

The report said the Google+ league tables are full of retailers that have established a strong presence on both Facebook and Twitter in recent years, but are now "turning to new and emerging platforms in an effort to cover all bases with online customers and social media users".

It was also argued that Google+ users continue to be more engaged with brands compared to users of other platforms. Topshop, for example, has 617,000 Twitter followers, but over double that number of Google+ followers.

Tom Whitney, consultant at social media analysis firm Crimson Hexagon, told Essential Retail that Google+ perhaps offers businesses an opportunity to better "curate a conversation", compared to Twitter and other networks.

"Google Circles provides a good way for businesses to foster a community, which can't necessarily be achieved to the same extent elsewhere," he noted.

"Conversations about brands are taking place within these circles and companies can engage in a positive way."

GlobalWebIndex research released at the start of 2013 showed that Google+, which launched with a limited following back in 2011, increased its active usage numbers by 27% to 343 million at the end of 2012.

It was suggested that because Google+ can be integrated with other products in the Google set, including YouTube, it is viewed as a key player in the future of search and the internet.

User numbers have continued to grow throughout 2013, and it appears the leading retailers are capitalising on its popularity to engage with their customers. Asos, as another example, has over 1.6 million more followers on Google+ than it does on Twitter.

Derek Eccleston, Commercial Director at eDigitalResearch, remarked: "Social media continues to be an important platform for retailers and brands alike – many of our conversations are now taking place online and social media provides retailers with the opportunity to increase awareness of their brand, boost engagement levels with customers and provide an open channel for people to get in touch.

"As the social media landscape continues to diversify, it is important that retailers and brands take the time to understand their audience and key target groups, ensuring that they are actively present in the same places online as their customers are."



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