Google+ has grown into an important social media hub for many businesses.
One of the most intriguing–but as of yet underutilized–features is the Google Hangouts video chat feature.
It’s not a replacement for face-to-face meetings, but it is a great tool for building relationships and getting more interaction. The opportunities for video chat as a marketing tool are also very rich.
Video chat puts you in direct contact with your customers on a personal level. You get to take customer interaction from email messaging and status updates to face-to-face communication.
Since it introduced the Hangout feature, Google+ has made several updates based on user feedback. With regular Hangouts, you can:
- Video chat instantly with up to nine people
- Have chats that are open to the public or by invite only
- Set up several cameras for the Hangout and switch between them
- Join a hangout via iPhone or Android phone
- Upload a document to share with the group
- Watch a YouTube video together and text to chat alongside it
- Share your screen
There is also an option for Hangouts with added features, such as:
- Giving the Hangout a name
- Creating a whiteboard presentation to share
- Make a phone call during the Hangout
Link to YouTube
One of the most exciting aspects of Hangouts is the connection to YouTube and the Hangouts On-Air feature, which will allow you to live stream to a much bigger audience. These Hangouts will be recorded as a draft and saved to your YouTube account directly. You can later edit the chat and add it to your YouTube channel for sharing.
That means you get to reach more people than before. You can use these Hangouts to discuss a new product, get customer feedback or just reach out to your customers and have a little face-to-face time to answer questions.
These recorded Hangouts will be available on your YouTube channel for others who missed the live chat or want to go back and listen to what was discussed while they were there.
Customer Discussion Panels
Invite your customers to join you for a live Hangout. You can discuss products that are in development, ask them to provide feedback on your customer service and find out what they think you can improve on.
When you interact with customers in a way that lets them see and hear you, that creates a solid bond between you. People like to know that there really is someone on the other side of that computer screen and that they are being heard.
You can use this as a free method of market research. Learn what customers hope to see from you in the future and what products you should keep and what should be done away with. Hold a Q&A session on a regular basis so that customers know there is a time for them to get their questions answered by you personally.
Your Hangouts don’t always have to revolve around a certain product. Have fun with it. Host a contest through live streaming. Encourage customers to perform for prizes. Offer discounts to anyone that joins a Hangout. Have a scavenger hunt where the other people have to find all the items on your list and hold them up for everyone to see.
Google+ Hangouts are changing the way you interact with your customers. Every day doesn’t have to be “business as usual.” Find new and creative way to interact and engage with customers. These are the things that will keep them coming back and encourage others to check you out.
John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.