If you are not using Google+ Sparks, you are missing out on a way to actively use your interests that no other social network can boast. Most social networks allow you to list interests to help connect with others.
While Google+ offers this is as one way to reach out and meet new people, it also keeps you in the loop on what is going on with your interests through social networking in ways you just do not see elsewhere. Let’s take a look how Sparks work and how you can use them to the fullest potential while on Google+.
How to use Sparks on Google+
Sparks appear on the left-hand side of your Stream when logged into Google+.
You will see a “What’s hot” link at the top. Click on it.
This will load some of the interesting posts on Google+ at the moment. You can browse through, see if anything interests you and engage in conversations you may never have seen otherwise.
Below that, you will be able to add your own interests, or Sparks, to be able to follow on Google+. This will allow you to see interesting posts on Google+, public posts that people are talking about involving your interest and more from Google. This can be the ultimate way to stay on top of what is going on with the things you care about the most.
In order to add an interest as a Spark, you want to use the search bar below your Google+ toolbar.
Search for a keyword, such as “technology” and click “Enter.”
There are two parts to a Google+ search: People and pages and the Stream.
The first part is the People and pages.
This shows you the different people on Google+ associated with the keyword. You can choose to follow them or their pages if you want, you can also filter the results.
The first filter is called Everything. Click on it.
This allows you to sort the results by Everything, People, and pages, Google+ posts, Sparks and Hangouts. This basically allows you to see how others are using this keyword within Google+.
The second filter is called From everyone. Click on it.
This will allow you to filter the results by who they come from. Either you, your Circles or from everyone on Google+ depending on how you want to see the results.
The third and final filter is called From Everywhere. Click on it.
This allows you to search by areas, such as a city or a zip code. You can find information on your interests locally and perhaps might meet others interested in the same things this way.
The second part of a Google+ search is a Stream of recent results.
Here you can go through all sorts of posts based on what is going on most recently as well as what Google thinks is the best of from your Spark. This is a great way to see what is going on, get the latest and meet people interested in the same thing.
If you click “Best of,” you can see the results Google thinks is considered the best relating to your Spark.
If you click on “Play,” you will be given real time results in the Stream about your Spark. This will let you see what people are talking about with the Spark. This part keeps you up to date on what is going on with your Spark and what other people are saying about it.
When you are ready to create your own Spark, you want to do your search, check out what is going on with Google+ and it, then click “Save this search” at the top of the screen.
This will add it under the What’s hot header in the left hand column.
If you want to remove a Spark, all you need to do is hover over it. Then, click the “X” next to it.
Google+ will give you a brief pop-up at the top of your screen letting you know it has been removed.
Now, when you are looking for Sparks to add, you will also see a list of Trends on Google+ on the right-hand side of the screen.
This lets you know what the popular discussions are on Google+ and perhaps you will find something you are interested in to follow. Simply click on one of the trends, it will load in your Stream and you can add it to your Sparks if you choose.
Sparks are an amazing way to stay in the loop along with meeting others who are interested in the same thing on Google+.
How does Sparks differ from how other social networks use your interests?
In a lot of ways, Sparks are similar to any other trend list on other social networks. They allow you to keep track of what is going on but in a more personal way. Most trends on other networks are simply what topic is popular at the moment. Google+ takes that concept to the next level by allowing you to set what is important you by using Sparks.
You can follow your interests, follow those who are talking about it and jump into discussions as you see fit and find something that truly captures your imagination. Sparks take the idea of trends to the next level, and if you are not using them you are missing out on another exciting feature on Google+.