Google to grow adoption of social-media tools by leading brands

Internet firm hopes new functions will help leading brands reach digital mobile consumers

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 28 September, 2012, 2:54am

More than a year since launching its own social-networking service, Google is stepping up efforts for more leading brands to use advanced tools to help them engage with customers on smartphones and media tablets.

"We are now seeing more users access Google Plus from those mobile devices than from the desktop [computer]," Gretchen Howard, the global director of Google Plus for brands, said on Wednesday. "That is where the growth in our industry is coming from and how consumer behaviour is shifting." While Google Plus has functions for brands to identify "key influencers" and tie dollar amounts to social marketing, Howard said the service will soon add new functionalities that will "give brands the analytic insights to make good decisions on social media". That strategy may help Google, the world's biggest internet company, tap into growing investments by companies to reach so-called digital mobile consumers.

A global survey released this week by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) forecast the world's largest companies will each spend on average between US$22 million and US$26 million annually by 2015 "to market, sell, and service digital mobile consumers through their mobile devices". That is up from the estimated spending of between US$13 million and US$22 million this year.

"Businesses addressing this [emerging] smart consumer segment must collect high-quality data to understand them in real time," TCS chief executive and managing director Natarajan Chandrasekaran said. Google Plus, which was launched in June last year, currently has more than 400 million registered users, of whom about 150 million are active on a monthly basis. It also has more than 1 million pages created by leading brands worldwide to gather feedback, promote products and events, and offer technical support.

"We are absolutely invested in making Google Plus the social spine of all of our [online] products," Howard said.

"Google Plus is starting to integrate with search to create a much better experience for brands."

In Hong Kong, the active brands on Google Plus included Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong Dragon Airlines, The Langham Hotels and Resorts, and online cosmetics store