Three Creative Ways of Using Google+ Hangouts

There are so many shiny new toys in the social media sphere…sometimes we can’t keep up. Google has a tendency to test out new ideas (remember Google Buzz?) and this time around they have spun out Google Plus Hangouts. It’s an opportunity for individuals or businesses to utilize this virtual “hangout” to communicate with others in their community or business via video. The only disadvantage that appears right away is the restriction of 10 people per hangout. However, when it comes to meetings and having the chance to build a deeper relationship among community members sometimes fewer can be beneficial.

How individuals are taking advantage of Google+ Hangouts

Individual users are being creative and using hangouts for a face-to-face experience for hobbies like photography and cooking. It is a simple way to make your personal life more interesting with people who share your interests. It’s also an opportunity to join communities that you may not have realized existed…whether it’s with people locally or not. Google Plus Hangouts allow individuals to stay in closer touch with their circles and/or to expand them in a more personal way.

Possibilities for Businesses with Google+ Hangouts

1. Dell 

It’s been reported that Michael Dell of Dell Computers has been very interested in Google+ Hangouts, especially for the ability to group video chat in order to assist customers with tech and customer support needs. Unfortunately the capabilities do not work with Dell currently and the restriction of 10 users appears to be a hindrance as well. For now it appears it’s a no-go but Dell hopes that will turn around one day so they can utilize the technology Google has offered with Hangouts. The company believes video chat for tech support could lend a great hand in real-time and personal support for their customers.

2. NBC Philadelphia: 

Television has definitely jumped on board and realized that social media doesn’t have to be a threat to news-telling, but a great cross-promotional tool. NBC Philadelphia has recently used Google+ Hangouts for both weather and even more recently a chat with President Obama. The weather team hangout was to allow viewers to chat with the team up close and personally and ask any weather related questions they had. This demonstrates the team giving a closer look behind the camera and showing an even more human side to the team.

Even more recently, NBC Philadelphia hosted a hangout with President Obama. Unique? Yes. Cool? Definitely. The President spoke live and answered submitted as well as live questions during the hangout. It was an opportunity for some to ask questions that had perturbed them such as employment issues. Social media can be a tough venue, especially with all the different opinions and questions that can easily rise. I commend the president for taking the chance, opportunity and demonstrating his willingness to be there on a more personal level.

3. Tearfund 

Tearfund, which is a nonprofit known for disaster response and advocacy, used Google+ Hangouts as an internal communications tool. It helped their team talk to staff who worked from home, or were off-site. Hangouts assisted Tearfund in doing briefings, staying on top of their objectives, and communicating more regularly with their teammates.

In short, there are many possibilities to interact, grow within communities, enjoy hobbies, have meetings, interviews, and/or build relationships on a more intimate and personal level. There are definitely other tools out there, which have similar functions, but being that Hangouts is a part of the Google ecosystem of Gmail, Apps, and more…it just makes it that much easier.

What would you use a hangout for? How would you use it for your business? 


Note this post was originally written for Social Media Club, and the original post can be found here


5 Ways to Tie Social Media to Business Goals

Money is not only valuable, but vital to the success of each business operation. Companies attempt to cut costs and raise revenue in order to be successful. Social media can help! Social media is about the relationships we build and the ability to listen and communicate in real time. This is unbelievably resourceful to so many facets of a business operation including support, HR, PR, lead generation, and marketing research. Here’s how:
1. Customer Support: No company wants consumers to have tech/product/service issues, but it happens and should be dealt with as soon as possible. As much consumers do not want to wait on the phone for hours when they could be doing something better with their time, nor does a company want to spend extra money on phone support, especially when there’s an easier and cheaper solution (i.e. cut costs). For example, Twitter is a great resource for consumer support. Dell is a great example of using Twitter as a resource to their benefit. They have a specific Twitter handle, @dellcares,  just for consumer support, which allows consumers to reach them 24/7 with issues they may have. First, I must add a disclaimer — be sure your company can handle monitoring and answering questions on a timely basis, otherwise there may be backlash by consumers who do not receive a response to their Tweet. So, how can your company take advantage of this FREE platform for customer service?
a) Get a handle that is either for your company or specifically for support such as @dellcare
b) Monitor conversations going on about your company regarding complaints, issues, etc.
c) Circumvent issues to the right person (finance, tech, etc), which allows for a timely response and solution
d) Respond in real-time. Less waiting. Less frustration.
Then, you may just have a successful and reputable customer service which consumers rave about.

2. HR Recruiting: Is your office looking for some new blood? Why hire a staffing agency or recruiter to search for new hires, when you can do it in-house for less money? Twitter, Facebook. and LinkedIn to the rescue. How these 3 platforms can help? You can get the word out a lot faster on these social platforms. In addition, your employees can Tweet, share and/or post on their personal channels (if they are so inclined) in order to bolster the word of mouth that there are great job openings available for your place of business. For example, recently HubSpot Tweeted they were looking for developers and people (employees and followers) ReTweeted it like crazy! Great promotion for a job opening, and without breaking the bank.

3. PR: Thinking about hiring a PR agency to help your company? Hiring one can be a great idea especially for companies who have the funds to do so. PR agencies offer help with strategic messaging and consulting during crisis communication. However, for those looking to do PR in-house, social media can be a great asset to build relationships. Businesses can reach out directly to journalists and infuential bloggers through Twitter and other social channels. That way your company can build a relationship with these journalists and bloggers and maintain them over time. Or you can use this as a way to augment PR efforts, which is great, especially for smaller businesses. First step is to ensure a company Twitter account is up and running. Then utilize it to reach out to bloggers in your brand category as well as prominent journalists who you want to work with and reach out to. If you already have a social media department and/or community manager, this is a great item to add-on to their job description instead of hiring a consultant from the outside. Save the money, cut costs, and create more revenue!

4. Lead Generation: Instead of wasting money on buying a prospect list for Lead Gen, why not try some cheaper/easier social media tools for lead gen such as Twitter,Facebook, Follower Wonk and more. These tools are helpful to search quickly and efficiently regarding influencers in your brand category. You can compare stats and followers of these people to see who’s worth your while and who you’d rather pass up. Although buying a list may be quicker, these tools are less expensive and if you social media experts in your company at your disposal, why not give them more responsibility and have them assist with lead gen efforts?

5. Marketing Research: No company/business can afford to fall behind its competition. Competition can be cut-throat and your business has to be able to stay on top, rather than get “cut.” Marketing research is key in these efforts to stay ahead — in order to know what the consumers are saying, how they feel towards your brand, how they feel towards your competition, and what your competition is doing. It is not enough to know on a monthly or yearly basis anymore. Businesses need to know in real-time what’s going on so they can act accordingly. Luckily, there are many social media tools for competitive analysis. These apps along with the employees to oversee these channels are key in efficient and effective marketing research that stays ahead of the curve.

So, don’t be afraid to try something different — embrace social media, because nowadays businesses and consumers alike prefer things in real-time for a cheaper cost. Utilize it, Share it, Save Costs, and Increase Revenue!

Note: this was originally a post written for oneforty, which was acquired by Hubspot.