On March 25, many Google+ brand accounts noticed a big dip in followers displayed on profile pages. In fact, Marketing Land decreased by 20%, even Search Engine Land decreased by 40%.
Initially some have thought that this was a “spring cleaning” of spammy Google+ accounts following profiles pages; however, it’s really pulling out the followers from a combined follower and +1 number. Google+ brand pages, until recently, didn’t show a true follower count, and Google+ badges still don’t.
What’s Changed In Google+ Profiles
Before, the Google+ number displayed prominently on brand pages was more of a “social score” of that profile or page that aggregated +1, followers, and in-circle numbers, which gauged an overall interest and as well as activity of a profile. (Thanks to Mark Traphagen for sharing this image of Red Bull’s Google+ profile before the change.)
Now, what Google has done, is pull out all of the followers from that number, and highlighted views separately, which is new, as we reported a few weeks ago.
Google+ Follower Counts Still Confusing
Of course, this can be confusing, it has been since the beginning. Until now, that number did not reflect a clear distinction between following a brand, or +1′s of a brand’s page when visiting a brand page. Meanwhile, the call-to-action button on brand pages are to “follow” the brand. Search results that delivered a knowledge box also delivered a “follower” number. And if you’ve looked at your dashboard as a Google+ page admin, that number you see is a “follower” number, it’s been that way for over a year.
Google+ Badges Keep Blending Followers And +1s
It’s important to note here that the social badges used on sites are still using the old metric of combining followers and +1s. For example, Mashable’s Google+ page indicates it has 3,045,999 followers, yet the badge on the site show it has 4.2 million:
Working Toward Simplified Google+ Follower Counts
Of course simplifying the metric to reflect just followers makes more sense. It is consistent with other social platforms, and it is a better representation of your reach. Google+ users can now follow a brand and +1 and / or share the content, eliminating that extra step of also +1 the brand. It would still nice to be able to see views for specific content, and segment views as well as follower growth by date range. But at least it’s a step in the right direction.