Are you new to Google +? Are you on G+ only because your smarty pants content strategist forced you to? Confused by how this circle “thing”works? Can’t figure out who to follow and how to start? Worse, do you feel lonely and alienated, and yearn for a community of like-minded intellectual giants like yourself?
Fear not, Google + neophyte! The tool you need to jump start your presence sits right in front of you. Ripples, a powerful but underutilized G+ feature, has been around since 2011. Many marketers, including this one, forgot it existed.
Here’s a quick primer on how Ripples works, plus three takeaways to kick-start your G+ presence. Most importantly though, we’ll show you a quick strategy for finding a place you belong.
What is it?
Google+ Ripples is a social analytics tool parochial to the Google +platform. It allows users to see how their content was shared on G+ (the “ripples” it caused), and by whom. It does all this is in a visually striking manner, by providing a dashboard that summarizes pertinent details to the virality (or lack thereof) of the content.
Where do I find it?
Move your cursor to the top right corner of every post on G+ and a drop down arrow will appear.
Click the drop down and Voila! Your menu appears.
You’ll then be brought to a Ripples details page *(dashboard) specific to that post.
You can also use Ripples to examine the virality of others’ posts. Use the same procedure as described above to see the virality of the posts written by the thought leaders in your industry. You can identify who shared their content across G+. Use these insights to fine tune your own content and identify influencers outside your own circles.
How do I read it?
Ripples shows you three key items:
1. Who has shared the post or URL, and any comments they’ve made (right side).
2. How the post was shared over time (very cool display: hit the play button to see how “contagious” your content was over time).
3. Statistics on how much it was shared, including influencers. This can help you determine the “how” and “why” of whether or not your content resonated.
How do I use Ripples to kick start my G+ presence?
1. Identify influencers. Click on a name on the graph to zoom to their bubble, then hover over a name to view a preview of their post and statistics from their re-share.
Example: I can click to David Amerland’s G+ profile and examine it to see if our interests coincide.
(They do: He’s a semantic search expert as well as a highly regarded marketer.) Then I can decide whether or not to add him to my circles. Using this method, I can now work through the entire graph, identifying influencers and like-minded individuals.
2. Make connections. Working my way through the graph, I can also reach out and thank each person. Comment, share, and engage with your new G+ connections. This is how relationships are started. These interactions are also important as the two-way social signals Google surveys to determine the trust, authority and reputation needed to rank high in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Can you or should you ask your new connections to share your content? In my opinion: no, not unless you have a relationship. Ask yourself this: How would you feel if a recent addition to your circle, with few if any interactions with you, requested you promote/share their content with your circles? I suggest you provide value first before you ask. This could be as simple as commenting on their posts.
3. Join/build a community. Create circles for these newfound influencers. Some of these influencers will extend an invitation to communities or groups they have created around common interests. You could also create one of your own, using the list of influencers and those that have found your content useful, as a seed list to get started. Invite these like-minded users to join a community around something you’re passionate about.
Google +Ripples is an effective but underutilized tool. Use it to make your content resonate more effectively, and to build your own audience. Most importantly, use Ripples to help find a place to belong.
So what are you waiting for? Click the drop down start making Ripples.