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Google+ Suggested Users Get 10,000 New Followers Per Day, But Are They Real?
Two 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.
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.
— Dan Harbison (@darbison) February 14, 2012
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.
Turns out Google+ is now doing batch suggestions for new users, and throwing a bunch of sports teams in the mix including us. Hence, up 40k.
— Peter Stringer (@peterstringer) February 14, 2012
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.