Hangouts are undoubtedly one of the coolest features of Google+. In fact, I always cribbed about none of the social networks offering a free video chat. Facebook partnered with Skype to bring video chat to the world’s leading social network. In my opinion, Google+ went one step further with Hangouts – not only can you do video chats and conferences, but it can also be published to YouTube almost instantaneously.
I’ve a number of clients who use video conferencing on a day to day basis. Though its’ early days, I expect the Hangout feature to play a pivotal role for Google+ business users. In this post, I talk about how you can use Google+ hangouts for your business.
What are Hangouts?
Most Google+ users know about circles but I’ve come across several users who don’t really know how Hangouts work. In simple words, Hangouts are a way for people to video chat with users within their various social networks – or circles. Anyone in that circle can decide to join and chat. Watch this Google video to see hangouts in action.
What’s in it for your Business?
The basic idea behind Hangouts is to promote face to face communication. It makes more sense for business users as they can connect with the prospect and existing customers to answer their questions, showcase their products and services etc. They could also use it to do a video conferencing session with their partners and resellers. The possibilities are endless – networking events, virtual meetings, Affinity development, Ask the Expert are all good candidates for Google+ Hangouts.
Promote your Hangout
I foresee Hangout as an invaluable viral marketing tool. Each hangout has a specific URL that can be shared to invite other Google+ users. I’d advice businesses to create hangouts for specific circles and promote them using Google+ and other social networks. The seating is limited to 10 people at a time so you need to plan accordingly.
I recently attended a Hangout which turned out to be a disaster. The organizer wasn’t prepared and the noise on the line was deafening. I recommend that business users should familiarize themselves with Hangouts by conducting dry runs before the actual hangout event. This would ensure there are no last minute surprises.
Google+ Hangouts are a blessing for marketers. The best part about a Hangout is that Google + actually records every participant who attended the hangout. Therefore, marketers get a golden opportunity to tap prospects by checking out their G+ profiles and adding them to their circles.
I recently read that Dell plans to use Google+ Hangouts for customer service. To be honest, I’m surprised that none of the other big companies have thought about it. After all, Hangouts present a wonderful opportunity for live, one to one as well as group interaction with customers.
Have you used Google+ Hangouts? Do you think it could be the next big thing in social media for business users? Please share your opinion by leaving a comment.