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Google+ Hangouts - A New Era of Customer Engagement?

Customer’s love engagement if it’s done in the right way. Nobody wants to buy from a faceless organisation; customers want to know what they’re buying and who they’re buying from.

Supermarkets have cashiers, banks have clerks and consultancies have account managers; people sell people.

As the world shrinks with the birth of the (buzz word alert) “global economy” it is becoming increasingly difficult to give your clients the personal touch. This is where Google+ Hangouts come in.

Google+ Hangouts are a function of Google+ that allow you to host a video conference with up to 9 people who can all interact with one another.

You can utilise a number of apps whilst conferencing including a virtual whiteboard (Sketchpad), Google Docs and even some games too.

You can even have a Hangout from within Gmail now, as long as both of you are Google+ users (this was announced on the 31/7/2012).

Also, through Hangouts On Air, you can broadcast the interaction through your Google+ page and on your YouTube channel. Cross-platform exposure means more potential traffic!

And all of this is free.

If done well Hangouts can be an excellent tool for sharing your brand on a global scale and increasing your online presence.

They can also be used to interact with customers for a number of other reasons. I have listed some ways in which you can utilise Google+:

  • Press releases/ news: Give your new product line/ service a personal touch. Invite regular users to interact live to discuss it. Customers trust independent reviews over business spiel. You can even share your screen/YouTube videos within your Hangout!
  • Live Q&A session: Using Hangouts and Twitter you can set up a live Q&A session about a new product/service/issue.
  • Provide technical support: Obviously constrained by industry. Witnessing support in action will always be respected by existing and potential clients.

These are all ways to engage and interact with your clients. Like all social media this won’t lead to quick wins but will build customer trust in your brand.

One such brand that has utilised Hangouts is the Guardian, which has developed a very strong online brand over the last few years.

In the past they have used Hangouts to relay news stories live, which portrays them as exclusive, current and encourages debate through their forums.

One such example was broadcast during the announcement of the Higgs Boson discovery at CERN. A Guardian journalist interviewed numerous scientists at CERN live on Google+ and broadcast the discussion on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EF8k7EkpdUQ

This is a sound example of using a Google+ Hangout to try and engage users and promote a brand as being ‘in-the-know’.

Hopefully I’ve given you some ideas on how you can make Google+ Hangouts work for your business.

If you’re interested in learning more about Google+, Digital agency Intergage are currently running a ‘Google plus for Business’ workshop. We also run a number of others, which are listed here.

In the meantime though check out Hangouts. If you’re too shy to host one yourself just join in one yourself! Firms like Samsung and Intel and even the White House do them regularly. Good luck!

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