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Have you not used Google Ripples yet? Any content that gets reshared or republished on Google+ starts a Google Ripple. Here’s the live Google Ripple for the subject of this post if you’ve never seen it. This post assumes you have and suggests some ways to interpret the information to turn Google Ripples into a powerful marketing tool.

There’s plenty of information in Google Ripples:

Anatomy of a Google Ripple

The ripple description is set by the Instigator. In this case, me, as I was reasonably happy with the results of a detailed “pistols at dawn” showdown between Majestic SEO and Mozscape (Open Site Explorer’s new name). It was something I wanted to share and the great thing is that the instigator gets… for just a bit… to control the message. Of course – this is the world of Social Media Marketing and you had better be reasonably happy that you are not trying to pull the wool over people’s eyes, because bad content at BEST never makes a ripple and at WORST changes your message from great fodder to pig swill in the blink of a cursor.

The timeline is shown in two ways and helps to see what viral affect (if any) the original message has. On the right of the screen, you can see a list of the participants and how they interacted with your message – whether in a positive of negative way and also when.

The main “Ripples” screen is interesting – but I think may tell us more about people’s roles in the viral message than first meets the eye. From the charts we can break the participants down into media types – a little like Klout does with its social styles.

Google+ Ripple Participants

In this example, I was the prime Instigator, because I was first on the timeline. However – other people came to the same content independently of Google+ and did not link to the content because of me. Wissam Dandan might also be described as an instigator, but then again, so could Karol Dziedzic. However – I call Michael, Karol and Adam “Islanders“. Independent voices, prepared to share the content independently – but (in this instance) their message was not yet directly reshared. These are important people in marketing terms, because they are already advocates of your message (by virtue of their independent post) but this suggests that their personal audiences don’t yet “get” the message. Karol’s is in a language I don’t speak – making him extra valuable as an advocate. Maybe these would be the sort of people to reach out to and give vouchers to, so that they can pass these on to their audiences – because clearly at the moment, the instigator’s message is not resonating enough in the ears of Adam’s listeners for them to turn into advocates.

Then we have the Connectors and the Relayers. Peter is relaying the message through Google to Rasmus, even though Rasmus is in my circles. The interesting connector here is Wissam – who seems to have not only passed on the message, but created a dialogue within the circle. He commented on Eric’s reshare and Eric +1′d Brent’s. There is an ecosystem here and clearly these people are closer to each other than they are to me – so their opinions are important to each other. Upset one of these people in isolation at your peril – because osmosis on the web works FAST!

Then there are those people that don’t appear on the charts at all. The Listeners. This is the REAL effect of your social media, because these few connectors collectively can have a deafening reach – whether on Google plus or Facebook or Twitter. You could work out the listener count if you could see each person’s circles, but it can easily run into the thousands.

This ripple is quite modest at the time of writing. You can see the effects of Eric’s previous post (an interview with Matt Cutts) over here. You can see that Ripples can start to turn into tidal waves.

Conclusions

Malcolm Gladwell talks about “connectors” and other types of social persona types in his books which every social media marketer should read. Klout has used these concepts and it seems Google – whilst not choosing to define the relationship – is never the less giving us a new way to understand and visualize how people spread a message and – importantly – the roles they play. I want a social media marketing tool that combines the visuals of Google ripples with Twitter retweets and shares and Facebook’s likes and posts for any given piece of content. Then syncing the identities of those users across those networks.

Then I’ll start to be able to see things clearly. Until then… in the land of the blind… 

Thanks for listening.