Google is the favorite for search, but it's not quite the bell of the social media ball. Still, brands that embrace social will have a head start on those en-vogue stragglers down the road.

Marketers pay attention to Google’s search algorithm updates because they dictate the future of SEO. Google continues its reign as the top search engine, pulling in more than two-thirds of all search queries in March 2013, according to the latest comScore data. However, the company hasn’t seen the same success with its social media site, according to an informal survey by Reuters.

While newer studies continue to show that Google+ is thriving within its peer group – Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest – Reuters found that the social network fails to attract major brands. Only 72 of the 100 most valuable global brands listed by media research firm Millward Brown are on Google+. Facebook, on the other hand, has reined in 87 of them.

Why the lag, Google+?

Why is Facebook outperforming Google+, when the search company is central to brands’ internet marketing strategies? It’s just not as popular yet, Reuters found.

More than half of the world’s active social media audience is on Facebook, according to a GlobalWebIndex report. Meanwhile, Google+ has enticed 26 percent of the social masses to sign up for an account. This is still better than YouTube’s 25 percent and Twitter’s 22 percent, but it’s not enough to convince the biggest brands to dedicate their marketing efforts to the site.

McDonald's empty Google+ page

Reuters found that even when major brands opened accounts on Google+, they were giving them the cold shoulder. Four out of 10 companies on the network were largely inactive or had never posted anything to their Pages. McDonalds, for example, has a live page that’s deprived of any content.

Dave Gilboa, the co-founder of online eyewear company Warby Parker, told Reuters that “the main reason we are more active on Facebook than Google+ is because that is where our customers and our target demographic are spending their time.”

A missed opportunity for some, a boon for others

The absence of major market players like Nike, Pepsi and McDonald’s might scare some brands away from Google+ marketing, but opportunists will see this as a chance to lay claim on prime social media real estate. Without competition from these heavy-hitters, companies with smaller marketing budgets can generate winning social media content that entertains and engages the growing Google+ audience base.

On top of that, brands that establish presences on the search engine’s site sooner will start to see SEO benefits, too. Google’s search crawlers can index the social network’s pages and give participating companies better visibility in search engine results pages.

Lauren Kaye is a Marketing Editor at Brafton Inc. She studied creative and technical writing at Virginia Tech before pursuing the digital frontier and finding content marketing was the best place to put her passions to work. Lauren also writes creative short fiction, hikes in New England and appreciates a good book recommendation.