Google+ launched brand pages six months ago, introducing new social nomenclatures like "circles," "hangouts," and "+1s." But it appears that anticipated ballooning of interest in "+1s" has been burst by the "pins" of Pinterest. And although Google continues to invest in product and marketing, the consensus among digital marketers seems to be that Google+ is where folks go to set up a profile, but then seldom return.

In fairness, brands have created pages but haven't posted anything since, which is a very real and very basic problem for brands. It calls into agonizingly clear focus the problem that brands entering digital space face every single day: Now that brands know what they can do, they remain unsure of exactly what they should do to create a truly strategic digital plan that will provide real engagement and/or return-on-investments.

A new study, the Digital Platform Engagement Index℠ – a national study of 49,000 consumers looking at 83 categories and 600 brands – demonstrates unequivocally that not only does digital platform engagement differ by category, but when it comes to digital marketing, one-size-does-not-fit-all. Sure, there's a widely held notion that Google+ users skew male and are tech-savvy, but that's just more demos and segments, and figuring out how to locate the right consumer is pretty much the last thing brand marketers struggle with today.

Via our Brand Keys Digital Platform GPS℠ measures, brands can optimize their digital investments and answer the following questions:

  • Which digital platforms provide higher consumer engagement in your category and thus a greater ROI?
  • How does digital actually connect with the emotional and rational drivers of consumer category engagement and how it will impact sales and loyalty?
  • Ultimately, how can brands operate strategically – and profitably – in digital space, customizing high-return strategies for different audiences and different digital platforms – including high digital usage consumers, or "Higitals"?

The latest official report from Google is that more than 100 million people have been active on Google+ in the past month. But that number includes people who've set up Google+ accounts and then visited other "socially enhanced" parts of Google, like search or YouTube.

All categories move at the speed of the consumer, so when we conducted our 2012 Customer Loyalty Engagement Index© survey, platforms like Pinterest weren't even on the radar screen. But at that moment, here's how Social Networking Sites ranked:

  1. Facebook
  2. Youtube
  3. Twitter
  4. LinkedIn
  5. Google+
  6. MySpace
  7. Yelp
  8. Foursquare
  9. Flickr
  10. Quora

More digital options to come, of course, so watch for our Loyalty Leaders List later this year. In the meantime it's worth remembering that the Internet's strength was supposed to have been its ability to help the consumer find the right needle in the digital haystack. The Digital Platform GPS was built to help brands find the right haystack in which to build their digital nests.