We have a tendency to cling to what is familiar, even when it can have a detrimental impact on us and our businesses.
Most event planners I’ve talked to have been very hesitant to embrace Google Plus, Google’s social networking site. The key reason? It feels like Facebook, without your established network, a few unfamiliar tools thrown into the mix…and, let’s be honest, who needs yet another social network to worry about?
Well, Facebook has a pool of about 800 million users, but billions of people perform billions of searches every single day. And that’s precisely why it would be a mistake to ignore Google Plus.
2 weeks ago, Google announced ‘Search, Plus Your World‘ a controversial revolution in the world of search that will have a major impact on your brand’s online presence. As Google states on their website:
“Search has always brought you information from across the web. Now, search gets better by including photos, posts, and more from you and your friends. When signed in with Google+, you’ll find personal results and profiles of people you know or follow. You can even expand your world by discovering people related to your search.”
It looks a little like this:
Search was once a competition of keyword relevance. Brands would hire an SEO expert to optimize their sites and find other ‘relevant’ sites to link to theirs – all to have their site ranked higher than their competition.
Google aims to change this by making search socially relevant. In other words, when someone within your social circle shares something, Google believes this content is likely more contextually relevant to you.
If you google yourself or your brand right now, it’s very likely your Google Plus profile (if you have one) will be on the first page and, in many cases, the first result. That’s because Google is giving priority to content from their social network (just like Google gave priority to YouTube videos and pictures from Blogger blogs – two platforms they own).
Connect the dots and that means:
There are now over 1 million business pages and 90 million users on Google+. Will you be one of them?
What does Google+ Ripples mean for small business?
Visualized data - We understand what we see well before what we read. This is part of what makes Ripples so powerful – a way to very quickly visualize complex data.
Potential Influencers – With this visual tool, you can quickly identify users who have compelled other people to share your information (one indicator of potential influence). Arrows within Ripples show the direction of resharing and circles within circles represent the resharing sequence, so large circles indicate heavy resharing.
Post shelf-life – Ripples can help you understand the lifespan of a post’s shares. Does your post die out after a day? Or does it have shares spread over a few days? These types of insights could indicate whether your content is time- or event-sensitive, novel or sustainable. Note: Ripples only shows data for the previous 53 days.
Time-lapsed insights – By clicking on the play button, you can view how often the post was shared and by whom, sequentially, over time.
Niche communities – Not only can you identify potential influencers based on the size of circles, but you can begin to identify how people are related to one another. Are they connected, purposefully or not, based on shared likes, interests and beliefs? Uncovering these insights can lead you to niche communities that exist within and (potentially) outside of Google+.
Experimentation – The power of understanding these analytics is the ability to experiment, like test posting factors such as time of day, day of week, titles, visuals, etc to understand how they impact shares.
To witness a Ripple, simply click on the right arrow on the top right of a public post and select “view ripples”. See below for a demonstration of the feature.
An important note: as Google states on their support site, “While Ripples displays a lot of cool information, you’re not actually seeing all the action that’s taken place. For starters, Ripples only uses public shares, so there may be a discrepancy between the number of shares that you see on a post in the stream and the number of shares that Ripples displays.”
And, Google has been very clear that Ripples is categorized as an experiment – meaning that they may evolve or dismantle the tool over time.
The short answer is only if you’re using Google+ as a part of your communications strategy (and most are not). That said, new ideas in the technology space are rapidly replicated. Although Facebook already has their own visualization tool called Touchgraph, it pales in comparison – if Ripples is a success, I wouldn’t be surprised to see something similar in other social media sites.
The second key issue is that, based on privacy rules, we will only ever be able to track public posts and shares. This significantly affects the intent behind sharing content and, ultimately, true data collection.
So, what do you think – is Ripples an exciting advancement in analytics? Will you be using this tool?