Wanna hangout? Oh, you live in another city/country/universe? No problem – Google+ Hangouts to the rescue! If you’re not familiar with Google+ Hangouts, it’s a free video chat service that allows you to catch up with friends via computer, phone or tablet. But what if you could use Google+ Hangouts to not only virtually ‘chill’ with friends, but use it as an innovative marketing tool? Turns out, many businesses are using it to host virtual meetings and/or broadcast their knowledge, content, and personalities to the world.

NPR hosts a “Morning Edition Virtual Coffeehouse” Google+ Hangout with reporters and special guests, Glamour Magazine hosts several Google+ Hangouts including a book club, and even sites like, Breast Cancer Answers hosts a bi-weekly Google+ Hangout with various doctors to, you guessed it, answer questions and educate readers about breast cancer.

Our very own search engine optimization guys hosted their own Google+ Hangout with Skadeedle, discussing keywords. They broadcast the Google+ Hangout to the world (which can also be streamed and recorded on YouTube) and, boom! Not only did we have a successful Google+ Hangout, but we also have an excellent piece of content marketing in the form of a recorded video.

Sarah Hill, Chief Digital Storyteller for the Veterans United Network, recently wrote a fascinating article about how she utilizes Google+ Hangouts to engage, build relationships and connect with military veterans. Hill writes, “There is nothing more effective for building your audience than face-to-face communication. Social media posts can’t compare with the ability to see your audience blink, follow their hand gestures, or witness their eye movements and facial expressions — all key components of what’s been called human media.”

Many in Hill’s network prefer the virtual face-to-face communication because, “Text-based interactions can leave users feeling like they’re just following an individual. Face-to-face interaction through group video chat gives users a feeling of truly getting to know you.”

One of Hill’s most effective Google+ Hangout methods is her weekly “Virtual Front Porch,” in which participants are free to come and go as they please, with no set agenda, just a friendly chat to touch base. Hill writes, “For personal branding and content creators, this can be a gateway to great interviews or subjects for your next piece — and remember, you don’t have to worry about taking notes if you have it streamed directly to your YouTube account.”

Hosting your own Google+ Hangout is an excellent opportunity to interact with current and potential customers, create stellar content marketing, and implement some of those human elements back into our marketing tactics. Have you hosted or attended a Google+ Hangout? Share away!