Google poured a lot of money into Google+ to distinguish it from established social networks like Twitter and Facebook. Though the jury is still out on the Google+ network as a whole, two very cool features you may not know about are certainly helping its cause.
Sherice Jacob recently shared how she's been using Google+'s Sparks and Ripple features to keep track of industry trends, track post performances and grow her Google+ audience.
The first Google+ feature, Sparks, allows you to keep up with trends or stories you're interested in by displaying people and posting results for whatever keywords you search for on search engines. You can even use Google's search language (like "and" or "or") to specify the type of content you're looking for.
You can then save your Sparks searches so you can quickly catch up on the latest news and share updates with your followers. Sparks is a great tool for not only keeping up with news, but also finding other people with similar interests as you—which is a good way to find potential customers.
The other tool Jacobs discussed is Ripples, which allows you to see which people are generating the most activity in your industry. Ripples measures how many shares a person's post are generating, who is sharing those posts, and who he or she is sharing them with. Here's what it looks like:
Ripples allow you to see who is sharing your posts and who is generating buzz among your Google+ connections or people in your area. One can learn a lot about how to use Google+ by observing industry leaders on Google+. You can also use it to gauge which of your own posts are generating the most conversation by looking at your own Ripples.
Have you tried Sparks or Ripples on your Google+ page? Tell us your thoughts about the two platforms.