Google + for Business: Hangouts and Face-to-Face Engagement
It’s almost been two full years since Google+’s official launch, and many businesses are still wondering how to use it in their social media marketing plan.
This article is part of a six part series by Wishpond. We explore the business benefits of the social media platform, Google+, and how it can help your online marketing efforts.
Google+ For Business: Google+ Hangouts
Google+ Hangout is a free group video chat that allows up to ten people to have a video conversation with each other. The person who initiates the call is the “host”, and has special privileges. While relatively simple in nature, there are a number of practical ways your company can use Google+ Hangouts both internally and externally.
The “start a hangout” button is just right of your cover photo.
Google+ Hangout’s Practical Applications for Business
Direct Customer Engagement
Like many other video conferencing programs, businesses can use Google+ Hangout to communicate quickly with clients - especially if both parties are accustomed to using Google+. For more visual industries, prototypes can quickly be showcased and explained to prospective clients with instant feedback. Conversely, customers with a problem or defect with their product can use Google+ Hangouts to quickly show your business exactly what the problem is, with instant customer service and directions.
Product Demonstration Sessions
Google+ Hangouts can be used to provide more information or training about new and innovative products that customers may not be familiar with. By doing a live video session, customers can ask questions and receive feedback in real-time.
Internal Meetings and Conferences
There are also many opportunities for using Google+ with your own employees or suppliers. This could be used for large, international companies who want to have a meeting with different geographical departments, or even smaller startup companies who want to meet with different parts of the supply chain.
Google+ Hangouts: New Features
While these practical applications have always been present, and are generally benefits of any video conferencing software, Google has released some new technology that really pushes the business applications of Google+ Hangouts to the forefront.
Instead of just being in control of the apps, the host can now set up something called Symphonical. This program puts a virtual wall inside Hangout so that participants can share and collaborate information and projects, which are saved to the Symphonical website for future use.
Google Hangout on Air is good enough for President Obama!
Hangout on Air
As of May 2012, hosts can now use a new feature called Hangouts on Air to to publicly broadcast the hangout to certain circles, allowing the host company to connect to international viewers and customers. Viewers can watch the Hangout from the host’s Google+ page, their YouTube channel, or any other site the video can be embedded. This also collects information about the number of viewers and automatically creates a YouTube video to the host’s channel.
Should you use Skype, FaceTime, or Google+ Hangouts?
The optimum video conferencing software is highly dependent on the the type of service you are looking for. We’ve already talked about the benefits of Google Hangout, so we can focus on some of the features and benefits of Skype and FaceTime.
Skype has the benefit of being the most well-known of the three alternatives. With a strong emphasis on reducing the barriers for entry to users - it is an excellent choice for connecting to participants with questionable computers, connections, or technical knowledge. Additionally, Skype is available for almost any device that allows an internet connection with cross-platform functionality in place. In terms of costs, two-way skype video calls are free, although a subscription is needed by at least one of the members if more participants want to participate. However, Skype often suffers from quality issues, especially if some of the participants are using a cellular connection.
FaceTime is the most restrictive of the three options, only allowing real-time connections for one-on-one - and is only compatible with Apple devices. If on an iPhone and on a wifi connection, the quality is very high. While the ease of use is high if both parties have iPhones, iPads or Macs, the practical uses of Apple FaceTime are casual at best.
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