Google Plus is Spamming Brand Page Followers
Around 3-4 weeks ago, Google+ started featuring pages for brands and celebrities for new users to follow as part of the sign up process. Right now an editorial team at Google reviews pages and decides which pages they want to feature, and there is no way to pay your way in.
Here is the screen you see when signing up:
The featured pages are assigned to different categories of interest as Circles. Brands like Starbucks are featured in the “Food & Drink” Circle.
As you can see, when the user clicks to add, all of the featured pages in the Circle are added to the user’s stream. So while this is a great way to get content to the user right away, it is driving unnatural growth of some brand pages. And in some cases, US-centric brands are gaining a massive amount of followers (40K+ in a few weeks) with a location outside of the US (up to 90%).
Google, please fix this! # of followers is a useless metric due to lack of relevance.