Using Google Hangouts
So you’re finally on Google+ and are learning about the alternative benefits it presents in comparison to, say, Facebook. But what about Hangouts? Is that just an alternative to Skype, a tool I can use to check in with people that’s integrated into my Google interface? While that is true, Hangouts presents so many additional opportunities that you can utilize to take your business’ social media game plan from six to midnight.
Google Hangouts: I Think I’ve Heard of Those
For the unacquainted, Google Hangouts is an instant messaging/video chat platform that operates within the Google interface, allowing up to 10 people to join a video chat. As Google describes it: “Conversations that come to life. Anytime, anywhere, for free.” What’s different and unique is the integration between Hangouts and Youtube – you can record a Hangout and save it to your YouTube channel. Not only do you get the benefit of screen sharing, multi-users, and other features…you can record and use those videos as content assets!
Hangouts is the driving force and epicenter of Google Voice, Google’s telephony service that (as does everything that is Google) plans to expand into a major telecommunications player over the next several years. Hangouts is part of a much bigger picture, one that will more than likely increase in importance and usability over time much like its Google brethren Gmail and Search. Hangouts very well could be what communication looks like in the near future, so now is the time hone your skill on the platform and integrate its usage into any social media plan you may have, personal or professional.
Hangouts Over Everything
As I stated previously, Google Hangouts is FREE and completely integrated into your Google account. Since you more than likely already have all of your contacts linked to your Google account, having the Hangouts chat option is much more convenient than having to access another platform such as Skype or video conference hosting services that actually charge a fee for using their service. With Hangouts, it’s all conveniently right there for you!
Find the Google Hangouts app in the Google Products menu from your Google Homepage. Hit “More” and “Even More from Google,” and scroll down to “Social.”
Why Should I Use Them?
So I know what Hangouts is and that it’s super easy to use, but what would I actually use them for? In the growth of a brand, Google Hangouts can provide you with:
-Increased exposure throughout the Google network
-Direct internal and external communication for your company
-The ability to host internal meetings with employees spread out across different locations
The Hangouts application is easy to download and navigate, and is compatible with Android devices, most mobile Apple devices and standard laptop/desktops.
A given Hangout can include up to ten individual devices at a time from anywhere in the world, so while there is a limit to the amount of access points allowed in the Hangout, one access point can still accommodate roughly two to three people per unit if they sit in close enough proximity.
Hangouts x Marketing x Promotion
Google Hangouts certainly make communications easier and efficient for businesses, but the program can also be utilized in a great social media marketing plan. How, you ask?
Below are a few different kinds of videos that your company can create using Hangouts:
-Customer Service responses
-New product announcements
-Interviews with industry professionals
Those are just some examples of how businesses have successfully used Google Hangouts. Hangouts are easily promotable too, as a quick Google+ post to your followers will announce the time of the Hangout and detail how to tune in. Obviously, this information is also easily Tweet-able and Facebook-able. If you use other Google Plus features, such as events and communities, you can create an event around your Hangout and then promote that event to relevant communities.
Now we know what Google Hangouts are, how they can help our business, and how to go about using them, but how do we make them look good?
Whether or not you actually need to concern yourself with production value is really determined by your intended end result of the Hangout. If your recorded or livestreamed Hangout media is intended strictly for internal or even viral usage, concerning yourself with outstanding aesthetics and production design is overkill. Most of the time, there’s no need for your Hangout to look like James Cameron’s next film set.
However, for videos that will be streamed on a massive scale, or for more professional communications, some of us may want to have something that’s a bit more pleasing to the eye and ear than a standard Hangout. A few ways to increase your Hangout production value are:
1) A room with minimal echoes or outside chatter. Though it may seem an obvious inclusion, hosting your Hangout with the least amount of chaos around you as possible is always ideal. Depending on the motives of your media, having a blank green surface behind you during a Hangout can also provide an opportunity to Chroma key a brand logo or even a scenic or comedic backdrop when appropriate.
2) A separate microphone for clean audio. While most mics standardly provided on our devices are decent enough to carry out a Hangout, investing in a professional-grade microphone for those of us who use Hangouts regularly can make a huge difference in your ability to communicate well through the platform. We here at Gryffin Media prefer the Yeti Mic, but a good headset with an attached microphone will also work well.
3) Lights! Employing a basic, three-point lighting scheme to your next Hangout will drastically increase the look of the videos you’re producing and immediately place you above all of the poorly-produced and streamed Hangouts out there. At Gryffin Media, we use a trio of softbox photo lights to produce a soft, natural look. Be warned, though, in confined spaces these bad boys can get hot!
The Gryffin Media softbox set cooling off before their next Hangout
Google Hangouts can be a great support system for your Facebook–Google+–Twitter social marketing strategy. Hangouts provide an integrated video communications system for free, easy to use, and instant interaction for businesses who need to interact both internally and externally at the snap of a finger. It’s also a great medium for all promotional video media to be hosted and livestreamed through. There’s a reason why a small yet successful business like recipe exchange hub BakeSpace has used Hangouts to host tutorials on cupcake decorating tips that draw hundreds of viewers per stream and has helped grow the company’s Google Plus community of followers exponentially (360K and counting!). Big businesses are “hanging-out” too. British confectionery provider Cadbury has used Google Hangouts to do taste testings of multiple products, including their ubiquitous Cadbury Creme Egg which involved people from all over the world enjoying the delicious Spring-time favorite. Hangouts really are adaptable to any business, any model, any social strategy.
How are you Hanging Out?
For more on how to use Google Hangouts for marketing purposes, see our follow up articles.
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