Google+: 5 Ways Hangouts Help Your Business GrowNow that Google opened the floodgates on Google+, newbies are looking around asking themselves,

“So, what’s the big deal about Google+? There’s

not much going on here.”

Well first, grab a copy of Chris Brogan’s book on using Google+ or check out numerous discussions, including my take on getting the most out of Google+.

If you still don’t have a clear idea of the advantages of Google+ for business, let me tell you about Hangouts!

First, I LOVE Google+ Hangouts.  So,

What is a Google Hangout?

It’s easy to miss the little button for Google+ Hangouts in the lower right sidebar of the stream — especially since there’s so much cool stuff going on in the stream itself.  But that little button next to the yellow camera can unlock some serious benefits to help your business explode.

5 Ways to Use Google Hangouts to Help Your Business Grow

  • Engagement – a Google+ Hangout personalizes your brand in a way that’s difficult to match in other social media.  Customers and prospects can see and hear the faces of the brand — not just read their words.   They can ask questions or just hear what you have to say about the brand.  Face-to-face, they’re building a more intimate relationships with the brand.
  • Make a big splash with your launch – let’s say you’re introducing a new product and you don’t have the budget to do a flashy launch like Facebook or Apple.  Use a Google+ Hangout.  Invite lead users, the press, or other influential folks to a Hangout and launch your product.
  • Product demos – demonstrating your product on a Google+ Hangout adds a live audience to interact with the demo — making it more exciting and interesting for your audience.  You can even do a screen capture with Camtasia or other product, upload it to YouTube and embed it on your site for future visitors. (Google, please integrate recording into your hangouts!).
  • Internal meetings and training – using a Google+ Hangout with employees makes sales meetings, strategy sessions, and training more fun.  And unlike video conferencing, a Google+ Hangout is more interactive without special equipment.  You can see everyone as they talk so you don’t lose nonverbal communication.   Google+ Hangouts feel more natural, so folks get to know each other better and work better together.
  • Use a Google+ Hangout as a focus group – you gain the advantage of multiple perspectives without the expense and hassle of gathering participants into a physical space.

What so Special About a Google Hangout?

Sure, lots of tools can do one or more of these tasks — and some do individual tasks better than Google+.  Part of the value of a Google+ Hangout is it’s integrated into a social network in a way no other option is. This means invitations to attend a Hangout fit naturally into the social network and people are more likely to attend when they see their friends Hanging Out.

Google also posts about the Hangout in participant’s streams once the Hangout is over.  These features take advantage of the social aspects of sharing to encourage participation both in attending the Hangout and in discussing the topics after the Hangout.

Sure, Skype is integrated into Facebook, but you can’t host 10 people on Skype like you can in a Google+ Hangout.  And, hopefully, Google will increase the number who can attend a hangout.

Your Turn

Have you used Google+ Hangouts yet? What do you like best and what aspects would you change?

Read more: Optimizing Your Google+ Local Page for the Google Map App