Marketers must consider Google+ as one of their top social media marketing channels due to its rising popularity and growing user base.

Marketers already know that Google+ is the social network that offers SEO benefits as well as user engagement. However, they might have underestimated the site’s growth potential because it didn’t receive the same fanfare as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest following its launch in 2011.

Google+ is now one of the most influential channels for social media marketing on the web – GlobalWebIndex data shows its user counts have eclipsed Twitter, securing the number two spot just behind Facebook. Business Insider reported that with 359 million active users, Google+ beats Twitter’s 297 million, according to the latest figures.

Marketers should take note that Google+ might be winning over internet users with its search integration tools. According to recent eMarketer report on travelers’ preferred internet research sources, people are embracing the site’s user-centric approach to local search. Citing data from TripAdvisor’s “TripBarometer,” the report shows that 40 percent of internet users around the world say they turn to Google+ when planning trips and 22 percent think the network is the most useful.

40 percent of internet users around the world say they turn to Google+ when planning trips and 22 percent think the network is the most useful.

The Google+ Local feature boasts better scoring metrics on local establishments and concise user-submitted reviews to guide internet searchers toward the best results. Brafton recently reported on an update to Google’s Local Search options that might convince the most reluctant companies to start Google+ marketing campaigns. The search engine quietly removed the “More results near…” link that previously displayed on the local search user interface, explaining that even more changes will be rolled out in the future.

The implication for marketers? If companies don’t have Google+ local listings, they might not rank at all.

Social media and content marketing strategies are crucial to B2C and B2B success, and they require revision to reflect ever-changing nature of the internet. Marketers who listen to social chatter and adjust their plans to reflect new search behaviors can position their brands online to capitalize on these changes.

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.