Two of the world's three most visited websites? Check. A stock price north of $600? Yep. A great tool for enterprise users to track their social media efforts on its flagship social media program? Not yet.
Late to the social media game, Google is still playing catch up in terms of providing enterprise users with a quality reporting tool for Google+, according to a new whitepaper from Covario, an SEM and SEO company. The gist of the whitepaper: Google+ Ripples is not enterprise ready.
"It's challenging to justify social media spending on this platform when the reporting [only] shows you insight on a per post basis," says Andrew Devine, the white paper's author and a senior SEO strategist at Covario. "It just shows you the social reach. It shows you the influencers who are pushing your article out. That way you can identify an influencer and forge a relationship with them if it makes sense on an ongoing basis. That is pretty much the main benefit of Ripples that I'm seeing."
Devine says that Google+ competitors Facebook and Twitter have much more robust reporting features.
"Facebook will show you basic high-level data," he says. "It will also show you some demographic data. The paid end is much closer to the Google AdWords interface where you have a paid campaign and you can track performance. The Twitter paid analytical tool is really great. It's extensive and is comparable to AdWords where you're managing paid campaigns. It offers a great level of insight. The free version isn't that great but it still shows more insight than Ripples."
Users can get more from Ripples by using AllMyPlus.com, a "work around tool" that puts some Band-Aids on Ripples' warts. "It's not the most comprehensive tool and doesn't compare with the reporting features of Facebook and Twitter," Devine says. "But it does show you aggregated data of the social impact of your profile over time. It will show you the number of comments, re-shares and Plus Ones. You can also compare it to a competitor's profile to determine the level of impact that they're having."
Devine says that his whitepaper grew out of Covario's in-house research to see if Google+ was a viable option to present to its clients. "As of yet we're still to be convinced," Devine says.
Using Ripples, Covario uncovered an interesting facet of Google+: Individuals have more reach than large corporations. Google CEO Larry Page has a very broad reach, Devine says, while corporate behemoths like Coke and Hewlett-Packard seem to have shorter arms. Coke and HP have a similar number of Google+ users as Page but only have two public shares to his 330.
"I think Google+ Ripples is an interesting tool," Devine says. "It's nice in that it provides a very visual understanding and the reach of one post. But it doesn't compare to the analytics solutions that we really rely on to justify our efforts with an enterprise client. I don't know how much of a lift an enterprise brand is going to get on Google+ currently."
Devine seemed puzzled that Google didn't put out a more polished product, considering how much the AdWords and Analytics certified strategist admires those tools' functionality.
"Their Analytics platform is really great," he says. "It has a super interface and you can pull a lot of user insights really quickly. That's something that I hope they will release for this platform on a page level. They say that they're working on it." He adds that Google said that in September 2011.
Google may be waiting to see if Plus's 250 million user ranks swell before investing more time in Ripples.
"Who knows why they haven't put out a better product?" Devine says. "They did say they won't be buying any more social media platforms this year. Does that mean that they're going to concentrate their efforts on developing this platform further? Who knows?"
Until then, enterprise users will need to make do with a sub-standard analytical tool for Google+.