This is a guest post from Louise Vine. Louise currently works as an SEO Content Executive for the The Search Agency

Last week I was fortunate enough to attend an event at the UK offices of Google at what was called a ‘Google+ Social Event’. I didn’t know what to expect exactly; we were just told that it would be about the latest goings on with Google+, but I was quite excited about simply being in an official Google office. I’d seen the amazing pictures of the Californian headquarters, so was looking forward to seeing what one of the three London offices had to offer. Now, of course it was no Googleplex, and was located in a large, shared office building, but it was pretty swish and modern. However after the swanky reception hall all I got to see were the corridors of the 9th floor and the blacked out event hall, and there was not much to indicate that we were in an office run by one of the biggest companies in the world.

Anyway, on to the actual event. First up, and our ‘host’ for the event was Ian Carrington, Google UK’s Director of Mobile and Social Advertising. He briefed us on the schedule for the afternoon and told us a few facts about Google+ a year on after its release.

The latest figures are:

  • 250 million registered users
  • 150 million active monthly users
  • 75 million daily users

Pretty decent work in a year, though, as many have pointed out, the ‘registered users’ figure can nearly be disregarded altogether seeing as creating a Google account will automatically create you a Google+ profile; whether you choose to use it or not. 

Next, Livia Giulia Zuppardo, the Product Development Manager of Google+, discussed the latest updates to Google+ that had been revelaed at the I/O the week before.

There were 6 areas of focus:

  • Events
  • Phone and Tablet Apps
  • Hangout Apps
  • +1 Button Recommendations
  • History
  • Mobile

The Events Function had already been released a couple of days previously, but we were shown a video of an event being created for a sailing day; demonstrating how the events can be integrated with your Google Calendar and put in a ‘Party On’ mode where everyone can post pictures to the page, live. Apparently their main aim with the Events page is to create something that is used ‘before, during, after’ the event. This is a nice idea, but I’m not really sure they’ve done enough to set them apart from Facebook in the Events department yet.

Then there was a brief mention of the better optimised apps for tablets before moving on to the Hangout Apps. Apparently in the last ninety days (after the app functionality was launched) there have been around 200 Apps created already and now 1 in 3 Hangouts use an app and the average length of a hangout is 2.5 times longer when an app is being used. We later got a demonstration of an app in play when we had a live Hangout with some people from MiniClip (yes, the major online games company). They demonstrated a pool game where a group can play multiple games against each other at the same time – making ‘tournaments’ possible. It looked good fun, but will Hangout game apps tempt back the big hitters that pulled out recently? I’m not so sure.

We were next shown how the +1 button was developing. The next step is going to be ‘Recommendations’ where you are shown other sites and articles that Google deems similar or of interest, based on what you’ve just +1’d. This is apparently in ‘developer preview’ at the moment though, so don’t expect to see it too soon. Another function currently in developer preview is something called Google+ History. This was described to us as a ‘mechanism to store moments’ that lets you choose when to share these ‘moments’ with your circles. So, you might have a photo, a comment, a +1 or a link that you want to save, but are not sure you want to share with anyone straight away – History provides a way to store these and lets you decide when to make them public – a useful little tool, I reckon.

Next up was Jerry Daykin from Cadbury, Jerry was a very engaging talker and he demonstrated how Google+ has, as everyone keeps telling us it will, helped their SEO. When a user is logged into Google and has circled Cadbury in Google+, searches for "London 2012" and "Rebecca Adlington" (due to their Olympic-heavy marketing at the moment) return a Cadbury’s result in a higher position in the SERPs than when logged out. Daykin also explained how the ‘X amount of people +1’d this page’ in their paid search ads increased their CTR by 17%, not too shabby.

We then had a talk from Rich Kemp from LateRooms.com. He emphasised the importance of staying personal on social media and pointed out how their Google+ profile had pictures of the individual people who updated the page. Rich also talked about how they offer a few different circles to their fans – including one which tells users about daily deals all the time – if someone doesn’t like being pestered once a day, they don’t have to join the circle; if they want the deals they can opt in. 

Finally, we were treated to the whirlwind that was Daria Musk. She’s a singer-songwriter that found fame with Google+. You couldn’t fault her enthusiasm for the social network – and to be fair her story is fairly impressive; she started off singing a concert in a Hangout to anyone that would listen and now has been circled by over 1.7 million people – but her fervent American-ness was a little much for the subdued, English audience. Especially when she sang a song at the end and encouraged us to "sing along!" – that wasn’t going to happen in a million years.

So, that was a Google+ social event. Shameless self-promotion by Google for their own social network? Yes. But also a fun and casual look at some of Google+’s newest features and how it’s beneficial to brands. All in all, a decent afternoon out of the office. And the best part? The free Google bag, flip-flops and sunglasses of course!

The Search Agency is an integrated online marketing agency specializing in SEM, SEO, Social Media, Display, CPO and Feeds. For more information check out their own blog, The Search Agents

If you are interested in guest blogging for us, please get in touch.

By: Louise Vine

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Stephen

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