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Social Analytics for Your Enterprise with Google+ and Ripples - Guest Expert Post

I have Google's Blogger app on my iPhone and iPad mini.  I can write articles for publication from anywhere with an Internet connection, but are they read, are they shared?  That is our subject for today.

One of the biggest growth areas involving mobility is mobile marketing.  If your company's target customers are researching products, comparing products and buying products on mobile devices then the following information about Google+ and Ripples may be of interest to you as it is to me.  I have invited social media expert Allison Rice to share her expertise in this area with us.

Question: How do you know the number of people paying attention to your company's messages or articles on social media?

If you use Facebook, as more than 700 million active users do (most on mobile devices), then you click on your business page's Insights tab and read through about four pages of fairly detailed graphs and statistics. If you're on Pinterest, you've probably already checked out their new analytics page that launched in March, while Twitter users likely get their stats from Twitter Web Analytics.

Most social media sites have some form of analytics page that goes into varying degrees of detail about your social reach. Facebook has one of the more detailed, with information down to what region most of your followers are from and how many of your first time visitors come back for a second, third or even twentieth look at your page.

But sometimes all you want to know is your overall impact. How many people did you reach with a particular post? Did those people care enough about your post to share it with others? Are you really reaching new people or are you just wasting time on a particular social media campaign?

It was just this kind of thinking that led the developers of Google+ to create a unique analytics feature called Ripples. In one glance, business owners can see what, if any, impact an individual post has had in their social community and how it reached.

Making Ripples
Click to Enlarge

One of the neat things about Ripples is that you can view the Ripples of any public post, not just your own. Take, for example, a link that Geekless Tech writer Steven Hughes posted about social media lessons for small businesses on April 19, 2013.  Within four hours it received 133 "+1" or likes and 60 shares. Since it's a public post, we can view the post's Ripples by clicking in the upper right hand corner and selecting "view Ripple."  The Ripple graph that appears shows that, within those four hours, the following things occurred:

The article was reposted 44 times
The article was seen and posted independently by 26 Google+ users, represented by the small, external circles
Harold Gardener and Rex Dow are important influencers as their shares were re-shared by one and two more users, respectively.

Below the larger Ripple graph is a chart that allows you to view the spread of the post as it occurred in real-time. This allows you to see when the most people reposted it, thereby giving you a good estimate on the best time to post in the future for the most reach.

Below that are three short columns. One lists, by name, your highest influencers -- in this case Harold Gardener and Rex Dow. The second shows the frequency of shares per hour, as well as the average chain length, and the third shows the primary language of those sharing the post.

Finally, by hovering over each sharer's name, you can see what they posted along with the re-post, any hash tags they might have included in their post, and their profile image. A running stream of real-time comments and shares on the post also appears to the right of the Ripple with the commenter's image and time of action.

So with essentially one chart, you learn not only how much your post has spread over a given period of time, you also find out:
The best times to post to reach the most people
Which influencers you should appeal to in order to reach more people
How fast your post spread and who it appeals to
What people are saying about it
The virality of your post
What region of the world your post appealed to most

With so much detail in just one glance, enterprises are quickly realizing the value of a Google+ page for their business. Apart from the Ripples aspect, Google+ pages are optimized for higher ranking in search results and the "personal" results aspect of Google searches means that your business is more likely to show up in searches conducted by people in your area, as well as in recommendations within Google+.

Even though some have marked Google+ as a "ghost town," recent surveys show it as having the second highest active user level of social media sites, ranking just under Facebook. And if the ease of use and the ability to see the results of your social media campaigns in quick, easy-to-understand analytics, the simple fact that your business is instantly more visible should encourage you enough to give Google+ a shot.

What aspects of social media analytics have you found to be the most helpful? Which have been the most confusing? What do you like/dislike about Google+ and Google+ Ripples?

Allison Rice is the Marketing Director for Amsterdam Printing, a leading provider of custom promotional products to grow your business and thank customers. Allison regularly contributes to the Promo & Marketing Wall blog.

Kevin Benedict, Head Analyst for Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud (SMAC) Cognizant
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Read the whitepaper on mobile, social, analytics and cloud strategies Don't Get SMACked
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Join the Linkedin Group Strategic Enterprise Mobility

Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and SMAC analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

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More Stories By Kevin Benedict

Kevin Benedict is the Senior Analyst for Digital Transformation at Cognizant, a writer, speaker and SAP Mentor Alumnus. Follow him on Twitter @krbenedict. He is a popular speaker around the world on the topic of digital transformation and enterprise mobility. He maintains a busy schedule researching, writing and speaking at events in North America, Asia and Europe. He has over 25 years of experience working in the enterprise IT solutions industry.

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