Google+ recently announced that it's hitting important user count benchmarks, but do those numbers actually translate to active participants?

Google+ has always been a bit of a mystery when it comes to social media marketing power. Given Google’s stakes in the network’s success, it seems natural to assume that it’s in brands’ best interests to develop strong presences on the site. Yet, G+ has struggled to earn brands’ and social media users’ adoration despite the search engine’s best efforts to push the platform to prominence. At a recent event announcing 18 new features, reps from the site revealed the network is rapidly growing.

There are now “540 million people active across Google each month, [with] 300 million people active in just the stream and more than 1.5 billion photos uploaded every week,” Senior Vice President Vic Gundotra wrote in a post for the Official Google Blog.

As impressive as these numbers appear, Google+ membership figures are often contested because the search engine includes people who visit any Google property, including YouTube, Google News and Maps. Marketers should pay more attention to the 300 million stream users because it represents the number of people who actually log into Google+ and engage with people or brands.

For now, it seems that brands’ success with the network depends on the demographics they target. Some communities (like tech) thrive on G+, and members advocate the network’s ability to organize information. However, businesses may see less traction when aiming to reach target audiences comprised of Google+ laggards. (Think of these people who are still attached to other go-to networks, but are in an exploratory phase with G+). While these demographics may not yet be actively reading and sharing brand content, they migh

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.