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When it comes to content creation, video is something that still scares people. Despite the fact that webchats and webinars have been around for a relatively long time, it can still be hard to encourage an individual or business to take part. And yet the benefits of a Google Hangout can be substantial. As we have already seen, video marketing is key in 2014 , and we want you to use Hangouts to take advantage of it.

Hangouts launched as part of a revamp of Google's services to tie in to the Google+ network, and replaced Google Talk, Gchat and Google Messenger. Instead, one integrated service now allows for text and video conferencing. It's been used by a range of celebrities, including President Obama, the Dalai Lama, David Beckham, Brad Pitt and many more. And it's also used by prominent brands including Cadbury, ASOS, Dell, Coca-Cola, Topman and of course Google itself, as well as a huge number of smaller companies and individuals.

Obama Reportedly Uses Google Hangout

Presidential Google Hangout

Ways To Use A Google Hangout:

As a video conferencing tool, there are a number of ways you can use Google Hangouts within your company, as well as to reach an external audience. It is not just about video marketing, it is also about saving costs and improving processes:

  • Employee engagement: Connecting with employees, particularly those who might work remotely.
  • Client Consultations: An easy way to speak 'face-to-face' with clients.
  • Product Demonstrations: Not only is video a great way to show product benefits, but the results can be recorded, saved and published elsewhere.
  • Customer Support: Solve problems one-to-one or one-to-many, and be able to save and re-publish those answers to cut support costs in the future.
  • Interviews: Share live video interviews with prominent people within your company or externally, again being able to utilize the results on YouTube, your website etc.
  • Webinars: Whether you're offering a forum for potential customers, information or training.
  • 'Behind the Scenes' Content: If your business is comfortable with the idea of sharing behind the scenes content, you can broadcast idea sessions, design proposals or anything that gives an insight into your company and brand, and get help and feedback from your audience.

Key Benefits Of A Google Hangout:

By offering the option of a Google Hangout, you are not only using a cheap and versatile video took, you're benefiting from a range of features that will help your business.

  • Accessibility: There are relatively few people who don't have a Google account of some description, and joining Hangouts as a guest is relatively simple. It also works across computers, Android and iOS devices.
  • Connections: Video conferencing is a great way to build connections with customers, other companies and potential business partners. The integration with Google+ means that you'll have access to their contact details via the social network.
  • Content: Not only does a Google Hangout provide fresh content for your Google+ page, but Hangouts on Air also integrates directly with YouTube. As a result, you not only get the potential audience from both properties, but also have a hosted archive video which can then be edited and shared externally on your own website, social networks etc.
  • Low Cost: To run a Google Hangout simply requires a device with a webcam and microphone.
  • Promotional: By providing information, demonstrations and training you can promote your business without needing to give discounts or free products.
  • Text Chat functionality for speakers and attendees: Useful for organizing who will speak next and answering private problems/questions as well as general 'behind the scenes' discussions.

Google Hangouts is for private Group conversations, and Google Hangouts for Air is the choice to integrate and broadcast live to YouTube as well. Combining both, you will be able to add video to your marketing mix in a very cost effective way.

Example of Hangouts on Air

Example of Hangouts on Air

Tips For A Successful Google Hangout

Preparation is important, particularly if you are inviting speakers from outside of your business, and who may be accessing the Hangout remotely. Check everyone is clear on the date, time, and topic, and they have suitable equipment for reasonable quality video and audio. It's worth preparing a loose script or agenda which outlines topics and discussion points to keep things broadly on track and to allow speakers more time to prepare answers. Make sure everything is in line with your overall objective, whether that's awareness, sales, engagement etc.

It also allows you time to test your own set-up, and run through the process for setting up the Hangout. You can download the Hangouts Apps for iOS , Android  or Chrome. It's also worth checking your own audio and video quality.

One big mistake tends to be excessive echo, often from the choice of location. The other is not investing time in decent lighting, which can really affect the quality of your production. It doesn't have to be expensive to grab a couple of fairly bright lights which can make a big difference. Finally check you're sitting or standing in a comfortable position which allows you to run the chat effectively, but doesn't leave you slumped or being shot from below (unless you want a double chin).

Give yourself time to promote the fact a Hangout is happening, ideally at least a couple of weeks. Use whichever channels you prefer, and use the time to also engage with your community by asking for questions and topics – you'll not only have a more interested audience, but you might discover important questions about your product or business which you wouldn't have answered otherwise.

When you go live, you may need someone to monitor the social feeds separately from hosting/interviewing, unless you're confident about multitasking. Make sure you speak clearly, don't be afraid to keep guests on topic, and try to be genuinely enthusiastic as video and film will reduce the effect to make you less full of life than you'd expect.

Finally make sure you spend time ensuring that your recording, or clips from it, are published in all the relevant locations and are optimized for people to find them. That includes titles, descriptions and links on YouTube, adding it to your website with a transcript if possible, and on other social networks.

Measure The Benefits

Case studies exist for brands such as Cadbury, who attracted 150,000 followers to their Google+ page through Hangouts, which increased click-through rate and traffic for the launch of a new chocolate bar.

Topmangave access to a fashion show alongside the first Shoppable Hangout which allowed customers to buy directly via the Shoppable Hangout app. The average viewing time was 8:36 minutes, and 85% clicked from the Hangout to engage with products.

Hangout Case Study By Topman

Make sure you have agreed metrics and KPIs which match your main objective for your Hangout or series of Hangouts, and check whether those aims are being met. And be prepared to evolve your preparation, promotion and optimization with the lessons from your first attempts to ensure that your audience is growing and your results keep improving.

Have you already try Google Hangouts and Hangouts Air for your business? Share your impressions with us. We'd love to hear your experience!