Mention Google+ in a crowd of social media enthusiasts and you’ll receive a mixed bag of responses. Most will crack jokes and comment about a virtual wasteland, but after the laughter dies down, a few die hard holdouts will tell you why Google+ is still worthy of your time. For example, Google+ Hangouts have changed the way many people socialize and do business online.
Hangouts enable you to have a video chat with at least one person, but potentially as many as you like, and savvy people are using them in a variety of ways.
Have you ever wanted to interview experts? Host a webinar? Chat with your entire family on video at once? The Google+ Hangout feature allows you to do all that and more.
There is no one so technically challenged he can’t host a Hangout on Google+. If you have a webcam, you’re in. The process is simple and intuitive and you can make your hangout as public or private as you want. You can even create a Hangout On Air if you want to invite many people to view your hangout which automatically records to YouTube so you can share the video of your hangout on your blog, website, Facebook and other platforms.
Hangouts don’t have to be random, general live chats, either. Use them to:
- Host webinars: Because the Hangout interface allows you to upload documents and share your screen, Google+ is a terrific alternative to pricier webinar services. The Hangout on Air option enables you to invite as many people as you’d like to view the webinar and you can even allow for a Q&A afterwards. Hangouts on Air also record straight to your YouTube account so you can share the video on your blog, website, Facebook and other platforms. The best part is that it’s free to use which is especially helpful for those who have something to share but don’t have the budget for a pricier webinar option.
- Host interviews with authors and experts: Hangouts are perfect for the one on one. You can host an interview with an expert and invite your community, or record it privately to share later. When you use video for interviews as opposed to email interviews both your community gets a better idea of the interview subject’s emotion and enthusiasm. For live hangouts you can also encourage the audience to ask questions and interact with both host and interview subject.
- Run demonstrations of products and services: Hangouts give you a platform to demo your products and services to interested parties, in a private or public setting. With live demos there are no smoke or mirrors, and no mishaps to hide, plus you can answer questions as you go along.
- Entertain: Host concerts, comedy routines, magic shows and more. Not everything has to be business.
- Have a book discussion: Grow your community by hosting a book club. You can start out with a smaller hangout and bring it to a Hangout on Air if it grows. The coolest part is that you can invite the current book’s author to join you each time, something you can’t usually do with a neighborhood book club. Not saying he or she will show up, but you never know.
- Run a focus group: Rather than flying in a group of bloggers or consumers to discuss the pros and cons of your product or service, invite them to take part in an online focus group using hangouts. You can have a real time online discussion without having to worry about hotel stays and airline tickets.
- Host client meetings: Working from home? Can’t take time away from the office to commute to a meeting? Using a private hangout allows you to have your meeting via video and the only thing missing is the complimentary coffee and donuts. Share documents, present slides and even record the hangout so you can refer to your discussion if needed..
- Host staff meetings: Hangouts are perfect for telecommuters and brands with staff members scattered around the country. Video is way more personal than conference calls and hopefully you can cover more ground in less time.
- Crowdsource: Opening up a hangout to friends, fans and followers to ask questions about product development is a perfect use for Google+ Hangouts.
- Show the human side of your brand: Hangouts enable you to report from the office. You can show off the conference room, bring your community to a staff luncheon, and allow them to tour the office. Using hangouts to allow a peek into the inner workings of your brand make your customers and community members feel as if they’re part of the brand and shows people there are real, actual humans working for you.
- Host a brainstorming or mastermind session: Get together with your peers and share ideas or brainstorm a new business. Some of the best business ideas are born out of masterminding sessions, and now you don’t have to travel to a separate location to get one together.
- Host a coaching session: If your job is to coach, you’ll find Google+ Hangouts to be a great time and money saver. You don’t have to travel cross town or use up your minutes to coach. Not when you can do it via video. As hangouts allow you to talk with several people at once,, you can even do group coaching or motivational sessions.
Google+ Hangouts have amazing potential. All you need is a webcam and a WiFi connection and you can take your business to new heights. Google+ is free, intuitive and available to anyone with a Google account.
What are YOU using Hangouts for?