Crash Course in Google Hangouts

Allison Howen
by Allison Howen 22 Mar, 2013

Chances are that your brand's Google+ page doesn't have as many followers as its Facebook or Twitter pages, but instead of neglecting this social network because of a lack of engagement from fans, you should find a way to gain more followers and interactions in order to reap the benefits from this valuable channel.


Google+ offers many features that, when leveraged properly, can help brands not only foster engagement with their customers, but also provide businesses with increased visibility in the search results. This is because Google, unsurprisingly, tends to rank Google+ content highly in the SERPs. That being said, one of Google+'s unique offerings, which can be utilized to obtain better engagement rates, is Google Hangouts


What is a Hangout?

A Google Hangout gives Google+ users a way to participate in live video chats. Brands can leverage this feature for a variety of purposes, including to hold a private conference with up to 10 participants or to broadcast live events to a public audience.


For example, companies can use Hangouts to hold private meetings. By doing this, colleagues can collaborate over the 'Net, and even have the ability to use Hangout's built-in productivity apps, such as Google Drive and Slideshare. That said, most companies will want to use this feature to gain Google+ followers and to foster relationships with their customers, which is best done by hosting public Hangouts. 


Recently, many brands have been gaining popularity on Google+ by hosting exclusive Hangouts and publicizing the events in other channels, including more popular social networks. By doing this, companies are not only increasing their visibility and engagement rates on Google+, but they are also enticing customers, who currently don't use Google+, to become members and follow the brand in order to take part in the event.


To gain some inspiration of how brands can leverage Hangouts, let's check out some current tactics...


OK! Magazine - High Profile Q&As

This entertainment magazine has launched some high-profile Hangouts as of late, including one earlier this week with Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' star Brandi Glanville and one today with Boy Meets World Star Danielle Fishel. Although most businesses won't be able to use celebrities to attract attention to their Google+ page, they can implement a similar strategy by hosting Hangouts with top industry professionals.



Washington Post - Holding Debates

Editors at the Washington Post use Hangouts to foster debates about relevant public issues, just as the publication did this week by launching multiple Hangouts on the topic of gay marriage. This type of strategy not only encourages engagement between Washington Post editors and readers, but also allows participants to gain insights into each other's point of views.



Coca-Cola - Relating to Fans

Popular beverage company Coca-Cola took a unique approach to its latest Hangout, by having a Coca-Cola super fan, who was invited to the company's headquarters, host it. This strategy provides Coke's audience with a unique view of how regular people (in this instance a super fan) relate with the brand.



Billboard - Product Launch

Billboard teamed up with John Mayer this week for a Hangout that announced the singer's new album and upcoming tour dates. By doing this, the singer created social buzz around his new product - his music. Companies can use this same strategy to build excitement for up-and-coming or highly anticipated product launches.