How To Use Google+ Hangouts In Your Micro Business

Hub Editor sets the topic, we share our expert opinion, bring a coffee and have a laughFor those of you who read my previous Micro Business Hub article about Google+, you’ll remember I’m a downright Google+aholic.

I’m also not shy of extolling the virtues of the social media channel, which I implore you all to join (it’s not a cult…honest!), and in this article I’m going to look at one of its best features – Hangouts.

Google+ Hangouts is a video chat service from Google.

If you’ve ever used Skype or Facetime then you’ll be familiar with how this works on a ‘face-to-face’ level. But where Hangouts differ is that they’re more about ‘face-to-face-to-face’ in that they accommodate for more than one ‘caller’ at one time (actually up to ten). Add to this document sharing, video sharing, scratchpads (like a live whiteboard where people can draw, write and exchange ideas), and On Air broadcasting and you’ve one awesome free to use business tool.

Here are some examples of how you can use Google+ Hangouts for your business:

  • Video conferencing – great if you have employees or use a network of freelancers.
  • Document collaboration – work on documents in real time and discuss it face-to-face.
  • Share your screen – for those moments when you need that little bit of IT support.
  • Discuss ideas – using the scratchpad function
  • Customer services – arrange to speak face-to-face with clients or customers rather than hide at the end of a phone.
  • And… Conferences, Q&A, Live Debates, Webinars, Brainstorming, Live Interviews, Guest speakers…..I could go on! Get creative. Think of ways to interact with your audience and produce video content that will engage them.

So now that we’ve got you thinking about hosting a Hangout, here’s all you need to know about setting one up.

Start a Google+ Hangout

1. First off, you’ll need a Google+ account. Don’t have one? Then read my other article about setting one up.

2. Go to plus.google.com/hangouts and click the ‘Start a Hangout’ button on the top right side of your screen. Alternatively, click the Hangouts icon  on the left side of the page and click Start a hangout under the ‘HANGOUT INVITE’ section.

3. You’ll be taken to an invite screen where you’ll be able to:

  • Make sure you’re mic and camera are working correctly by looking at your video feed at the bottom of the page. You should be able to see yourself in the video feed, and when you talk, you should see a green bar appear at the bottom of your video.
  • Invite entire circles or specific individuals to join you in your hangout. Invited users will get an invite which they can accept. This then adds it to their Google Calendar. The event will also be added to the right hand navigation bar on their Google+ page.

(If you want more detailed information, help and support about Hangouts then I thoroughly recommend the Google Support pages – http://support.google.com/plus/bin/topic.py?hl=en&topic=1651547&parent=1257349&ctx=topic)

Hangouts are more private because they can only be seen by the people attending (of which you can invite).

Start an On Air Hangout

Hangouts on Air are less private because they enable live broadcasts that non-participants can watch.

Therefore the On Air live broadcast function allows you to showcase your business to a much wider audience. In addition, you can record them (via Youtube) for embedding on your site.

To do this:

1. Set up a Hangout as detailed above.
2. Select the option to Enable Hangouts On Air.
3. Once everyone’s in the hangout and you’re ready to go live, click Start broadcast at the top of the screen. The broadcast is now officially on air and the public can watch…..so mind your language!

On Air Hangouts are also recorded to your You Tube channel to make sure these are linked up. You’ll be able to do this when you first do an On Air Hangout.

You can learn more about Hangouts, and On Air Hangouts, from Google themselves by following this link. http://www.google.com/+/learnmore/hangouts/

micro business actionToday’s Micro Action

Some of you may be aware of the Hub Hangouts that take place each month so why not join one and get to see a Hangout in action!

Or why not set up your own business Hangout and invite us along.

Daniel Honey

Daniel is Director of Honey Digital and has over ten years experience in digital marketing. He has worked in both digital and marketing roles for large organisations such as the Energy Saving Trust, British Red Cross, and Chesterton Humberts before working for major London digital and social media agencies. In these roles Daniel has managed major website design and build projects, created both offline and online strategies, and worked on social media projects for clients including the BBC (Top Gear, Doctor Who, BBC Earth).