Takeaways from “Let’s talk social with Agencies”


Last Friday we had the opportunity to attend “Let’s Talk Social with Agencies” - an event hosted by Google at their London offices. Along with the great hospitality, Google didn’t fail to deliver on useful tips, insights and suggestions on how to best approach social media in the coming year.

Google’s Social Vision and best practices

The morning kicked off with the Google Agency Team’s Head of Performance, Matt Bush, explaining how social fits in to Google’s vision, and some of their suggestions for being awesome at it.

To start out, here are some of Google’s suggestions for social media campaigns;

“Make it less of an outreach process, and more of a conversation”

Something which was a common theme throughout the event was the push to move away from using social platforms as outreach / lead generation tools, and to instead use them as a way to drive meaningful conversations and engagement.

Put simply, social media should be a two way process. Take the opportunity to understand and connect with your audience instead of just broadcasting at them.

“Show more of a human side”

Companies shouldn’t be afraid to let their people shine through. Adopting a more personable and friendly tone will encourage interaction.

Spend time talking to people on a one-to-one level, and focus on their needs. Treat it as you would a conversation - not a sales pitch.

“Bring together interests into communities”

Social platforms can be used to bring together people with a common interest into a community. A great example of this is with the Google+ Photography community which allowed professional and budding photographers alike to share tips and knowledge, and eventually grew to the stage where a dedicated Google+ Photography Conference was held.

These communities bring with them an opportunity for your business to get involved and share knowledge with an audience who are likely to engage with you.

Engaging with relevant communities is a chance to encourage brand discussion and awareness - not a place to market your product or service.

“Focus on brand awareness and image, not conversions”

When doing anything via social, view it as increasing brand awareness and not making a sale.

The user will often not be in the process of looking for a product at that time. Make them remember you and the experience they’re having at a later date when they are looking to buy.

“Social doesn’t need a huge budget”

To get people interacting with your brand you don’t necessarily need to be spending huge amounts of money - or in fact any at all.

Spontaneous pieces of content can often perform better than high-budget campaigns. For example, a recent wedding proposal on an Emirates Airlines flight was captured on video and shared on the company Youtube page. It is one of their most-viewed pieces of content to date.

“Bring in social at the start of a campaign - not as an afterthought”

If you’re planning on bringing social into a campaign, ensure that you bring it in at the start.

Think of all of the ways social can be brought into your campaign - think outside the box.


Google’s social flagship is the Google+ system, and Matt Bush described it as the “social backbone” across all of Google’s product range. It’s in YouTube, Gmail, Search and the advertising networks, and we can only expect to see more integration moving forward.

Here are some quick stats Google shared;

  • The typical active user spends around 12 minutes per day “in the stream”.
  • Google are reporting around 3 times more engagement on their platform than others. Some larger brands are seeing Google+ grow to be their biggest social presence.
  • Ads which have social extensions enabled typically see a 5-10% increase in CTR.

Making the most of Google+

  • Google+ automatically adds hashtags to posts, maximising your visibility within relevant communities and topics.
  • Google+ allows the use of image, video and text media. The best streams will make use of all of these formats.
  • Google+ supports animated header images - take the opportunity to get creative
  • Hangouts are a great way of driving Face-to-face engagement and encouraging discussion.
  • Create circles for various campaigns or promotional activity so you can easily manage subsets of your audience.
  • Google’s AutoAwesome can enhance your videos and photos - making them ready to share.

Topshop - A Case Study

To tie everything together Joanna Aston - the Industry Manager on the Google Retail Team - spoke to us about the campaign Google ran with Topshop during the London Fashion Week and some of the lessons learned. Here’s a summary of what came out of it;

  • Google have the technology to turn a hangout into a buying experience, complete with in-app purchases.
  • As well as the main social platforms (Facebook, Twitter and Google+), Topshop made extensive use of Youtube and Google Earth.
  • The campaign was promoted offline as well, with in-store live streams and a photobooth which allowed people to try on outfits, snap some photos and share them straight to the store’s Google+.
  • Topshop made use of all of their social presence, and cross-linked the content to increase visibility.
  • Topshop took the opportunity to promote individuals such as the models and designers as well as just their brand by pushing their Google+ profiles on the website as well as encouraging them to post about their experiences during the week. Interestingly, content by the individuals was amongst the most popular.

Most importantly the campaign made the exclusive, inclusive. Topshop took the fashion show experience and created something which allowed anybody to get involved.

Jumping the measurement hurdles

Next up we were joined by Kristin Brewe from the Internet Advertising Bureau about measuring the effect social media is having on your business. Some interesting figures came out of her presentation, which you can view the full deck for here.

  • 1 in 4 businesses only use social media because they feel they have to or because their competitors do.
  • A large proportion of brands which don’t use social media say this is the case because of a lack of ability to prove ROI.
  • A large percentage of brands which do use social media are not effectively measuring their ROI.

Some of these issues were addressed by Kristin in her talk - and her biggest pieces of advice were the following;

  • Make use of metrics which are relevant to your business when attempting to measure success. There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to measuring the ROI of social.
  • Link your findings to established metrics.


Finally, there were a couple of spoilers and potential features to keep an eye out for.Personal Results are going to begin rolling out to more than just the US.

  • Hash tags / social trends may begin appearing within search results under or in the knowledge graph entry.
  • Reviews may begin to become more prominent in search results - with reviews written by a social connection having preference.

Finally, and possibly most notably, was the suggestion that “Personal Results” may begin to roll out to more than just the US version of Google. These are the private results which are shown only to you in response to a query, and can answer questions like “When will my package arrive”. This in particular is something we’ll be looking out for at High Position.


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