How SMBs Can Join In on the Google+ Hangout Trend

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Golda Criddle
Golda Criddle
February 3, 2012
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Google+ gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “hanging out” with its video Hangout feature. It takes chatting online to a whole new level by allowing for spontaneous face-to-face online gatherings. Any Google+ user can start a Hangout with up to 10 other users for any length of time for free.

Many businesses, public figures and celebrities have started using Google+ Hangouts to reach out to the public including the White House, David Beckham and The Muppets.  Most notably, President Obama used the social network’s video conferencing tool to create a virtual town hall meeting focusing on the economy. He took questions via Twitter and YouTube. Five Americans in citizens across the country also participated in the Google+ Hangout, and were able to ask follow-up questions in real time after the President spoke.

Further, NBC’s Darren Rovell will host a Google+ Hangout to discuss this year’s Super Bowl commercials on February 6. Users will be able to use a feature of Google + Hangout that allows users to share and watch YouTube videos simultaneously. Rovell explained the purpose of the hangout: “The day after the Super Bowl is when people head back to their office water coolers to discuss what they loved and what they didn’t. Our conversation is about taking all those water cooler conversations and bringing it to a national, digital stage.”

Both of these hangouts take advantage of the “Hangout on Air” feature that allows Hangout to act as a live broadcast to the public. Google+ Hangout combines some features from programs like Skype and GoToMeeting such as multi-people video conferencing, and screen-sharing for free. This is what makes Google+ Hangouts unique.

Google+ Hangouts can be useful for small and large businesses alike. Here are just a few ideas for using Google+ on a smaller scale:

  • Customer Service:  Personalize your customer service by helping out your customers face-to-face! Private hangouts can be a great way to offer excellent support and you’ll be able to get visual cues and live feedback from your customers.
  • Brainstorming: If your business operates remotely, Google+ Hangouts allows for weekly or monthly communication through virtual meetings. You know ideas flow freer in a group setting. You can also use Hangouts with Extras to watch inspiring YouTube videos to start or end sessions.
  • Instructional Classes/Webinar: Chef Lee Allison uses Hangouts to teach cooking classes. You can teach skills from software to social media through video with interactive chat. Hangouts make question and answer sessions easy, personal and informative

Can you think of other ways to use Google Hangouts to promote your business? Please feel free to share your ideas in the comments below!

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