Everybody’s talking about Facebook and Twitter. But if you’re a local business owner or a marketer, here’s one thing to remember: don’t let Google’s own social networking service – Google+ – fall out of your radar.
According to travel reviews aggregator TripAdvisor, more and more people are using Google+ to do research and find information for their travel plans. The social network has, in fact, become a rising influence for travelers, with 40 percent of respondents in TripAdvisor’s TripBarometer survey saying that they turned to Google+ for travel information while planning their trips; 22 percent even said that it’s the most useful social network for planning their travels.
They’re using it to research destinations, look at text/photo/ video content, read hotel reviews, check restaurant ratings, and find information about local businesses. This puts Google+ as the second most popular social network – after Facebook – for travel research, ahead of other social networking services like Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
Still not convinced that you should include it in your social media marketing mix? Google+ is also heavily integrated with Google’s other services, including Search, Google Maps, and Google+ Local, its own online reviews aggregator and recommendation engine. Which means that you ought to at least take on a more active role in monitoring online reviews and information found in these Google products.
“Though much maligned stateside, Google+ has a growing worldwide footprint,” wrote eMarketer in an analysis. “Research shows the network’s rising influence during the travel planning phase…. The site’s nomenclature – regardless if it’s ‘officially’ a social network – has little bearing on its influence for travel research. Google+ continues to integrate content – including photos from travelers, travel brands and destinations, along with user reviews from Zagat – into an increasingly larger space on the right side of the search engine results pages. When users click in that space, they’re rerouted to a Google+ Local Page, and they’re using Google+ whether they realize it or not.”
TripBarometer is a comprehensive report by TripAdvisor covering travel attitudes and behaviors of consumers as well as the hotel industry’s plans and expectations for the year ahead. The study is based on the results of a month-long survey conducted on behalf of TripAdvisor by research firm StrategyOne, taking into account the responses of 35,042 people from 26 countries spanning 7 regions.