Identifying influencers using Google+ Ripples


Google+ Ripples is an app that sits natively within Google+, allowing anyone to see the reach and influence of a particular post in G+ once it has been shared. On top of this, you can visualise the spread of the post over time with a scrolling bar that allows you to see the impact a post has at any point along its lifeline.

The magic of Google+ Ripples, however, is the ability to search out and target influencers.

People that re-share your content and get large numbers of subsequent re-shares have larger ‘ripples’ which makes it very easy to see who people pay attention to, and quickly.

While there are people who argue that influencers on Google+ don’t mean anything as the service is minute compared to Facebook, you have to consider the fact that influencers on other social networks that move to G+ often carry that influence across, so not only can ripples be used to find influencers on G+, but there is a good chance that these people exert clout in other arenas too.

There are other levels to the Google+ Ripples tool though. For example, if you were a recruiter looking for android developers to work on a project you could use Google+ Ripples to find people talking about and sharing content about android development.

As Ripples is completely public, this means that if two competing brands release content, they can effectively benchmark how successful those pieces of content are at a very granular level – to the degree where brand ‘x’ might get 500 shares, with 100 of those occurring at a second level, while brand ‘y’ might get 500 shares with 300 of those at the second level. In this example brand ‘y’ is more effective at leveraging key influencers to spread their message, while their first level influence is lacking. This creates a highly competitive environment in which brands need to stay creative and innovative in order to be successful in capturing the maximum share of voice.

It’s worth noting that Google does plan on plugging adwords into Google+, and that they will have something to do with Ripples. While industry chatter on this is vague and unclear, it wouldn’t be a stretch to think that you could run adwords campaigns to reach out to influencers with  pretty impressive levels of detail and optimisation.

We’ve said before that Google+ isn’t a competitor to Facebook but the future of search engine marketing and with functionality like Ripples being one of the key USP’s of Google+ we think there are some exciting times ahead for the service.

If you haven’t added FreshNetworks to your Google+ circles yet, then make sure you do so now!


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  1. Kirk:

    The metrics are skewed unfortunately, as Ripples only show public shares. I’ve seen my posts reshared, but to a limited circle of people, so I cannot get the full depth of how far a post has been reshared.

  2. George Cathcart:

    Hi Kirk,

    Yes you’re right, but I left that detail out of the above because I don’t feel like it affects the net result *that* much. Yes, you loose a certain amount of data, and yes it would be nice to see the specific circles someone is sharing to, but I guess that’s just one of the caveats of the app in the first place.

    Thanks for the comment!

  3. Mariam Cook:

    Thanks for this - personally I love ripples in terms of what they show regarding effectiveness and impact of content.

    But from the perspective of a page owner, wanting to reach others / influencers on the platform, they are somewhat frustrating. Because one can see who has shared posts, but cannot add those users to page circles or comment back ‘as your page’ unless the g+ user takes it upon themselves to add your page to their circles.

    So as marketers we can see all these potential influencers but not strike up a conversation, in the way you can on Twitter. Perhaps G+ are indeed gearing ripples for pages towards selling paid advertising but I think it will be a shame if bottom-up, community outreach / building is not made possible too. After all, as an individual people can add you to their circles without you adding them back - can’t see the massive harm in allowing pages to do the same.

  4. George Cathcart:

    Hi Mariam,

    Yes I absolutely agree with you it is a bitter-sweet pill for brand pages to swallow.

    While it does make the whole process more long winded, the prospect of approaching these people as the root user who ‘owns’ the brand page isn’t an unattractive one in terms of getting over this barrier. If you were to go to influencer ‘x’ and thank them for sharing, ask them to add you to their circles and throw in some compliments I’d be surprised if you didn’t get a good run rate. There is also always the option of looking for them on other spaces and reaching out on there.

    I think like you mention, the really fascinating part is yet to come - to see if Google keep ripples and how they plan on plugging adwords into the app. What that *actually* means for pages and ‘influencers’ remains to be seen. I can’t help but feel that one side will get a better deal than the other.