Google+ Suggested Users Get 10,000 New Followers Per Day, But Are They Real?

google-plus-red-128Two NBA teams with Google+ brand pages are adding about 10,000 new followers/circlers per day since being added to Google’s official suggested users list.

The suggested users list is shown to new Google+ users during the sign-up process, and can also be seen by existing users at this URL: plus.google.com/getstarted/follow. At the moment, Google suggests about 300 different accounts across categories like Entertainment, Music, News, Politics and Sports.

The suggested user lists aren’t new, but at least a couple NBA teams are apparently new to appearing on it — the Portland Trail Blazers and Boston Celtics both show up in the Sports suggestions.

google-plus-suggested

Yesterday on Twitter, Dan Harbison, Portland’s Interactive Marketing and Media Director, posted about the Trail Blazers adding more than 10,000 new Google+ followers/circlers since being added to the suggested user list a few days ago.

Peter Stringer of the Boston Celtics shared similar numbers, saying the Celtics are also up about 40,000 followers on Google+ in the past few days.

But Are They Legitimate Followers?

The unanswered question is whether the big gains in followers/circlers leads to more engagement, interaction, sales, or whatever goals the suggested users might have in mind. The Trail Blazers and Celtics, for example, probably hope that being active on Google+ (and other social networks) helps drive ticket and/or merchandise sales.

As I look at today’s activity on the Trail Blazers’ Google+ page, the team has published six posts. Those have a combined three comments, three shares and 21 +1s. That’s not much engagement for a professional sports team, especially one that’s adding 10,000 new followers per day.

There have been several articles in recent months questioning the authenticity of Google+ users/followers, including one this week from Wired magazine co-founder Kevin Kelly. After analyzing a sample of his 566,000+ Google+ followers, Kelly says that only 30 percent had “made any public activity” and 36 percent are “ciphers. Not there. Ghosts … had not even filled out a profile.”

(I should add that Tom Foremski wrote a good article about this same topic on ZDNet after reading Kelly’s research.)

It’s Not Just A Google+ Issue

Kelly also points to a Popular Mechanics article showing that 49 percent of an editor’s Twitter followers were “fake or spam.”

Likewise, it’s easy to buy fake Facebook “likes” or followers … but sometimes it’s painfully obvious when you’ve done that.

So even though some of Google+’s suggested users are getting 10,000 new followers/circlers per day (and chances are strong that non-sports accounts are getting more than that), we’re still back to the age-old social media discussion topic: quantity doesn’t necessarily equal quality.

Related Topics: Channel: Strategy | Google: Accounts & Profiles | Google: Google+ | Social Media Marketing | Statistics: Popularity & Usage | Top News

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About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Marketing Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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  • Anonymous

    I think this is just a function of the way Google+ is – people are being coerced/forced into signing up every time they use a Google property… they’re then following the suggested users and going back to their usual routine of interacting with them on the social networks people actually want/use – Facebook and Twitter.

  • http://twitter.com/brian_hancock Brian Hancock

    I do advertising on our brand page for Facebook and feel the same way about a lot of the fans we get as a result of a genuine Facebook ad campaign.  Most are from other countries and have no indication of being remotely close to our target market. Makes we wonder if facebook is gaming their own system because who else would have the motivation to click a fb ad and like a page they have no interest in?

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