Google @ Social Media Week: An overview

As most of you know, last week was Social Media Week and I managed to get my hands on a last minute ticket to the totally oversubscribed and packed out Google @ Social Media Week event.

A bit of a social network overview from an anthropological and psychological point of view, there was insight from academic heavyweights, such as Professor Robin Dunbar of Oxford University and Professor Alex Bentley of Bristol University, interspersed with presentations  and demonstrations from the team at Google UK, plus case studies from Google+ fans at Cadbury’s and Oxfam.

Hosted by Chinwag at the Design Council, the agenda was full and varied. After a brief hello from Paul Coffey, Industry Leader at Google UK, Professor Dunbar took to the podium to tell us exactly why the internet won’t get you any more friends. As with many behavioural studies, the conclusion pointed to our primate ancestors, grooming and the size of our brains. He also had research to show that entering into a romantic relationship will cost you, on average, one friend and one family member!

Romance dispensed with, Ian Carrington Mobile Sales Director at Google UK was next up to unleash some statistics on his captive audience. One with which noone in the room felt particularly comfortable was that 57% of people talk more online than in real life. And an individual is 300% more likely to make a purchase if someone they know has recommended it to them.

This is the premise on which the Google+ button is based. The big idea is that every time someone you know, or someone who’s in your circles, +1s something your Google searches, which is the starting point for most of us embarking on an ‘online journey’, becomes more personalised.

What followed was a jaw achingly funny demonstration of Google Hangouts by Beth Foster, Senior Google+ Strategist at Google UK (check out the image above). In fact, the visual aspect of Google+ seems to be key and ties in nicely with the anthropological conclusions that relationships are only really made face to face. So, while Facebook is very good at allowing people to maintain relationships that might otherwise have dropped off, Skype and Google Hangouts have the potential to build relationships. Much like Cisco’s Telepresence, it allows people to feel as though they’re somewhere, together. 

And Beth’s demonstration confirmed our own suspicions, that laughter is not only the best medicine but a persuasive communications tool! Check out All about the Idea on Google+, coming soon…


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