“Hanging Out” for Google+ success

Not only is Google+ Hangouts great for connecting with friends, but it can also be beneficial for marketing, especially Hangouts on Air. In today's guest author article, +Carolyn Capern of CT Social gives insight into how to be successful when utilizing Hangouts.

When I say that I’m “just hanging out” with my friends, the assumption in the conversation is that nothing of any real substance is likely to happen. We’re just spending time together, relaxing, talking, and maybe watching movies or TV. No real agenda to the day…we’re just hanging out.

When Google launched their Hangouts service on Google+, it quickly became apparent that this feature could take the in-person idea of “just hanging out” to a whole new global level. Now, thanks to the power of webcams and real time video, I can spend holidays and birthdays “hanging out” with my grandfather in Ecuador, my parents in New England, and my sister in Canada. I can build face-to-face relationships with the people on Google+ that I may have never gotten to see beyond a profile picture. The quality of interactions goes up significantly when you can engage with others on such a personal level.
Google+ Hangouts for Marketing
The personal benefits of Google+ Hangouts are fantastic, but the marketing potential is even better. In fact, for individuals and businesses that are looking to market themselves on Google+, Hangouts are a fantastic way to get to know others and increase your visibility in a low-budget, relationship-driven environment. Of course, this is where the agenda-free notion of “hanging out” usually goes away in favor of more specific topics of discussion, but the nice thing about Hangouts is that (just like a live-in-person meeting) they reflect the personalities and styles of the people participating.

Hangouts vs. Hangouts on Air

The benefits of Hangouts are significant to begin with, but they go to a whole new level when you start watching and participating in Hangouts on Air. But what is the difference between the two?

Hangouts are the core internal text and video chat service of Google+. They allow up to ten people to participate in a live video call. Participants can be part of a private chat (invitation-only, initiated by one person who invites the others), or a public chat, which are visible and open to anyone who wishes to join as long as there aren’t already ten people involved. You can share screens, collaborate on Google Docs, add special effects, and chat privately using text as well.

Hangouts on Air, on the other hand, can still only have ten people directly involved in the video call, but the video is streamed live via YouTube so that others can view it in real time. Users who are not on the call can interact and ask questions of the participants using comments on an event. When the Hangout on Air is done, it then lives on the host’s YouTube channel and may be visible for anyone to view later. Google also provides an additional “toolbox” for Hangouts on Air that expands the capabilities of the person moderating the Hangout to mute or highlight others.

These two layers can be equally powerful for professionals when used in appropriate and relevant contexts. Private Hangouts allow you to create an environment where you can foster real relationships; Hangouts on Air allow you to take your message to an unlimited audience. Either way, Hangouts present expanded opportunities that are almost unparalleled by other video services.

Build Your Brand with Google+ Hangouts

Remember that the word “brand” doesn’t just refer to major corporations like Kraft or Coca-Cola. Thanks to the Internet in general and social media in particular, any individual or small business who chooses to do so can build a name (a brand) for themselves in their subject area of choice. That brand can be leveraged into job opportunities, volunteer involvement, freelance business, and much more.

Because of their face-to-face nature, Google+ Hangouts can go a long way toward supporting many of your professional or personal goals. Here are some awesome ways to utilize Hangouts and Hangouts on Air; what other ideas can you come up with?
  • Hangout privately with your team members or potential clients. It’s almost as good as a face-to-face meeting, without the need for anybody to travel further than their computer or tablet.
  • Present new projects or collaborate on existing ones. Among the many benefits of Hangouts are the capacity to share screens and work together in real time on Google Docs, so sharing ideas and recording them has never been easier.
  • Host a virtual Help Desk. Establish “office hours” for your key staff to be available via Google+ Hangout for questions and answers with your clients. Choose to broadcast it via Hangouts on Air, or keep it private for secure answers.
  • Launch a new product or service via Hangouts on Air. Take advantage of the video reach of Google+ and YouTube, and encourage audience interaction through questions and answers.
  • Invite your followers to “ask the experts” in an interview or panel discussion. This is a very popular use of Hangouts on Air. Invite industry experts or popular celebrities to come and discuss relevant topics with you in a casual but professional environment. Invite select audience members to participate in the video call or field questions via comments and new Live Q&A app for Hangouts on Air.
For the most awesome tips about Google+ Hangouts, you can’t go wrong by following +Ronnie Bincer the Hangout Helper (and if you are doing a Hangout on Air, be sure to check out his Hangout on Air preparation checklist).

Hangouts have quickly become one of the most popular feature of Google+, and it’s easy to see why. How have you used Hangouts personally or professionally?