November 7, 2011 is the day Google+ brand pages entered our “social media” lives. The site is Google’s latest attempt at getting a bite of the social pie after the Orkut ship was sunk by Facebook. Google+ is still in its nascent stages. However, it is showing signs of giving other social media sites a run for their money. Here are some Google+ statistics we’ve collated for you (Google+ news):
- 250 million total users
- 150 million active users
- 125 million users sign in everyday
- Active users spend about 12 minutes/day
- More users use the network via mobile than desktop
According to June 2012 statistics (Google+ news), the site ranks 5th in the top 10 social media sites (hit wise).
Google+ Hangout has some great features:
- Video chat option with up to 9 people
- Screen sharing
- Live broadcast of chat
- Document sharing
- Simultaneous video viewing and chatting
- Session recording
The first step is to create your Google+ account and start a Hangout. It is very easy and free too. The technical aspects of Hangout are simple and intuitive. Hangout can also be used to find your online presence on other sites where people can look up your product offerings. Whichever industry you belong to, opening up your business through social media like Google+ Hangout will generate interest and stimulate conversations. But you need to be regular and prompt with your Hangout timings.
With so many amazing options available on Hangout, there is a lot of scope for getting creative! You can use one or varying combinations of all available services for what is best for your business. The size of your business, the industry you work in and your goals on Google+ are the main factors that will determine your choice of Hangout features. You have the freedom to make your own customized, informed choices. So go ahead and choose the best possible settings for your company’s Google+ account!
We have further unwrapped ‘Hangout’ for you:
1. Raise the ‘curtain’:
You know all that talk about an “open-door” corporate policy? Why then, it would be great if you could apply a similar strategy to your company account on Google+ too! Regardless of the address of your company, people will be curious to learn more about your operations. Satisfying this curiosity will make people feel valued and part of an exclusive group. This kind of exclusivity has a strong appeal for people and relays that you’re giving them an insider status. Here are a few tips for raising the curtains:
- Forewarn when your Hangout is about to start. This gives time to those who are running late to join in quickly.
- Be relaxed and give an honest representation.
- Make it personal and leave the serious business to your company website.
- Arrange for sneak peeks at new products/services. This will serve as an impromptu product pitch and help garner interest.
2. Live demos:
If your industry is tailor-made for practical one-to-one demonstration of your work, then Hangout is just the place for you. One of the best ways to deliver value to your customers is to organize a workshop or live demo that will show off both your skills and expertise. Demonstrations help in showing that your products/services actually work. You can also use a step-by-step demonstration as a tutorial for customer service. Demos spur people into action (make a purchase). Some handy tips:
- Be well prepared. But remember that you cannot run the whole show according to the script. You will have to improvise and think on your feet depending on how the demonstration progresses.
- Have a test run before the actual demo. This will show you what errors can occur and how to correct them.
- Make your contact information available. Encourage people to ask questions and contact you for further queries.
Google+ Hangout is a great place to share ideas and expertise with business owners and other industry experts. Providing potential customers with expert advice and valuable ideas is a real clincher in converting them into actual customers. And when your Hangout participants need more hands-on expert advice, it is you that they will turn to. Another huge benefit of crowdsourcing is that the more people you add, the richer the experience will become. And the people you add will bring in more people from their own circles. Sharing your field expertise on public forums generates goodwill. It also provides potential customers with great value. An expert panel in a Hangout consists of a team of experts from a particular area. This leads to a diverse range of expert advice from different people. A few tips to follow while crowdsourcing:
- Schedule your Hangout at a time that is most convenient for your participants.
- Post your Hangout timings and descriptions at GPhangouts.com. This will keep people informed.
- Keep a basic agenda ready.
- Moderate the conversation and rein it in when it strays from the Hangout agenda.
Irrespective of the industry you are in, at different points of time, you will have unsold stock at the end of a season/quarter. A Hangout is a great place for you to give these products away as prizes or just giveaways. This can be your online end of season sale!
Teaming up with an icon from your industry to host your Hangouts and hand out giveaways is also a good idea. Giveaways drive a lot of traffic. The people who get them have a first-hand feel of the value and quality of your product and become regular customers. Giveaways produce psychological pressure on people to return the favor by actually purchasing the products. Giving away some tips about giveaways:
- Your giveaways should be something that suits your target audience.
- Announce the giveaway item and giving away method along with your Hangout time.
- After every giveaway Hangout, post a write-up about it so that other people who read it are encouraged to join the next time.
5. The Q & A Hangout:
Holding Hangouts in the Q & A format will help you gain a lot of perspective which will ultimately aid in improving customer experience. Q & A’s work well because you know all the answers about your business. They provide an excellent opportunity to customers and potential customers to learn about you and your business. You can also ask your customers questions and get their feedback. Some tips for a Q & A Hangout:
- Google+ Hangout allows you to receive questions before the Hangout begins. So you have the freedom to choose the best questions.
- When you click “Start Broadcast”, the broadcast goes live and appears in your stream. Ask users to link directly to the Hangout post. By doing this, the users who are not among the nine can also post comments, give feedback etc.
- Also, make sure that it doesn’t become a one-way conversation. Give opportunities to others to participate in the conversation.
With options galore on Hangout, the launch of ‘Hangout on Air’ is the icing on the cake for marketers looking to capitalize on this amazing free feature. Hangout on Air removes the nine member only limit that Hangout has. You can now broadcast your live hangout for all the world to see!
The key features of Hangout on Air are:
- Broadcast to the public – You can broadcast your live hangout to the entire world through your YouTube channel or company website by checking “Enable Hangouts On Air”.
- Track viewership – During the broadcast, you can look in the hangout and check the number of users watching the hangout.
- Record n’ share – Google will upload a recording of your hangout to your YouTube channel and Google+ post after your live event ends making sharing content easy even after the live broadcast is over.
When you launch a Hangout On Air, you need to review and agree to the legal terms stipulated and connect your YouTube account to the Hangout On Air. Connecting your YouTube account to your Google+ account enables Google+ to record your hangouts.
Some ways businesses can use Hangout On Air are:
- Virtual conferences – You can organize and run a series of presentations by different speakers at predetermined times over a few days.
- Press conferences or company announcements – You can host virtual company press conferences or make announcements using Hangout On Air and broadcast to the entire world.
- User groups – Hold hangout sessions for your successful customers/vendors and invite other customers (potential customers also) to participate.
You can also embed the Hangout video on your company webpage if your Google+ goal is lead generation. And if you choose to do so, you can optimize your company page with calls-to-action to help support lead generation.
Are you using this amazing feature of Google+? Share with us your thoughts about Hangout, and about Google+ as a social media site. What is your Google+ strategy?