The Ripple Effect: How Google+ is Simplifying Analytics
Unless you're a bored teenager with nothing else to do besides post and tweet about your everyday life, keeping up with the social media aspect of your small business is probably more of a scheduled chore than an enjoyable pastime. Sure, there are times when you get excited about posting a video of an event or sharing some amazing thing that happened regarding your business, but generally maintaining your social sites in order to keep your business in the public eye can become somewhat tedious. And probably the worst thing that could happen is that all that effort goes unnoticed. That's where analytics come in, and why they are so important to a business owner or manager.
Why are social media analytics programs important?
Social media analytics programs come in all shapes, sizes and prices. From the freebie that comes with your social media site to highly integrated and team managed multi-platform services, there are analytics programs for every type of business and every kind of business owner. Ideally, any social media analytics service should:
- Show the effectiveness of your social media campaigns
- Show how many visitors you're reaching at any given time
- Show the virality of a post, or how much it's being shared compared to how many people are viewing it
- Show what's being said about a post, whether positive or negative
More detailed programs also include demographics, such as what regions you're appealing to most world-wide, the sex and age of your visitors, unique views versus total impressions, your top influencers, etc. But sometimes, all you want to know is how effective a single post was in reaching your current and potential customer base.
Why Google+ works for small business
There are plenty of reasons why your business should have a Google+ account, but if you're on the fence about setting up and maintaining a page, you should check out a feature called Google Ripples. Google Ripples works for all public posts and is one of the most efficient, easy-to-understand mechanisms for viewing analytics. In one glance you can see exactly how effective your post is, how many people it's reaching, who your biggest influencers are and how viral it has become. And instead of being spread out over several different graphs, all that information is visible in one simple circle graph. Say, for example, you posted an infographic and blurb that linked back to your website. A couple days later you check the post and the first thing you see in the bottom right hand corner is how many people have "+1" or liked the post and how many times it's been shared. To view its Ripple effect:
- Click on the down arrow in the upper right hand corner of the post
- Click "view Ripples"
A new page instantly displays a circle chart with your post at the center and bubbles radiating out from it. The larger circles show people who have shared your post and then had others share their repost. Smaller circles show reposts that weren't shared or were shared less than others, and unconnected circles show one-off repostings or links. By hovering over any given circle, you can see the profile image and name of the reposter and any comments they might have made, as well as any hash tags they might have included. It's much easier to understand when you look at it. Take this Ripples image of a Bon Appetit post on Mile-High Chocolate Pie:
The Ripple shows the original article plus several reposts that haven't yet been reshared and one repost, by Chef Dennis Littley, which was reshared from him by two other people. At the bottom of the circle graph is a chart that shows when and how many people shared the post and a play button below that allows you to view the spread of the post from the moment it was posted to now. With just these simple graphs you instantly see that Chef Littley is an important influencer and that mornings and lunch time seem to be the best times to post to have the most impact.
When compared to other analytics tools, Google+ Ripples seems to be one of the most simplistic and effective when it comes to determining the impact of individual posts. And a glance at your website's Google Analytics page can show what, if any, traffic was driven to your site from that post.
Of course, other analytics programs will give you a better idea of your marketing's broader impact and some will even help you out with suggestions for posts specifically for your business niche, but for an instant idea of how well your message is getting out there and ideas on when to post for the most impact, you can't beat Google+ Ripples. And the price is more than fair: it's a free feature with your Google+ account.
Have you tried to use Google+ for your small business? What features do you wish Google+ included or what features aren't explained well enough? What other social media analytics tools have you found to be helpful?
Allison Rice is the Marketing Director for Amsterdam Printing, a leading provider of customized pens to order and other promotional products to grow your business and thank customers. Allison regularly contributes to the Promo & Marketing Wall blog, where she provides actionable business tips.