The social network’s cheerleaders have recently told Marketing Week that it is the visual elements of Google+ that make it more engaging than Facebook or Twitter.

This plays into the hands of retail marketers who can use Google+ to provide users with visual content that promotes products alongside lifestyle elements they want to associate with their brand.

The possibilities are almost endless as to how brands can use the platform to interact with consumers.

H&M is one retailer that Google holds up as a great example of how brands can use its features to better engage beyond ‘Likes’ and followers. H&M was an early adopter of the network and now has almost 1 million followers on Google+.

The Swedish retailer says it has chosen to use Google+ as an “inspiration” platform, rather than replicating its shopping experience on the platform and aims to make the content it posts unique to Google+.

Ocado has used Google+ Hangouts to host cooking demos that highlight not just its own products but give the brand an additional, useful value in consumers’ lives.

Macy’s, the US department store, is also cited as a good example of how a brand is using Google+. It uses Hangouts to host fashion events for customers, giving access to its fashion and beauty stylists or fashion buyers to enhance the experience of the brand beyond shopping.

Google+ may only be a year old, but a year is a very long time in digital marketing and social media.

While the precise benefits to your brand of using Google+ may be cloudy right now, this lack of clarity will dissipate more quickly by participating and trying it out. Standing on the sidelines while others delve in is a surefire way to make sure that their brand, and not yours, makes a breakthrough and unlocks the power of Google+.

Earlier this month some research by eDigitalResearch, which has been monitoring retailers’ use of social channels for two years, found those brands that adopt a new social channel early, continue to dominate as it grows.

As more consumers and brands sign up, it will be more effective for any retail brand to be onboard adapting with the channel as it grows, rather than coming to it late and having to play catch up.

Google+ certainly has its fair share of critics and hasn’t grown at the same explosive rate as Facebook did in its first years, but because Google+ is integrated with the enormous power of Google’s search capabilities it offers something that other social networks simply can’t. It might be a slow burner, but this is what will ensure the longevity of Google+.