Google+ is chock full of hidden gems. The problem is, most marketers regard Google+ as a social platform that isn't delivering significant social media marketing results. Unfortunately, this perception usually inhibits their ability to see all the cool things Google+ has to offer: the little features, functionalities, and tools it provides to improve the way your business functions. Boy, are you in for a treat!
So let's stop viewing Google+ as just another social network and instead put it to good use as a business tool, particularly through the use of Google+ Hangouts. Hangouts is one of the most versatile Google+ tools available to you, especially when you find it difficult to assemble your entire team for in-person meetings. With Google+, you can give internal communication a boost and increase efficiency ... all for free!
Google+ Hangouts ... With Extras!
If you're not in the know, Google+ Hangouts is a live group video chat feature that enables you to video chat with up to nine other people. But that's not all! Google+ Hangouts are also available "with extras" -- extra features that you can use within your Google+ Hangout sessions. By hosting a virtual meeting through Hangouts with Extras, you can get so much more out of your Hangout sessions. Here are three ways you can use Google+ Hangouts, including the key "extra" features that amplify their impact.
Host Virtual Meetings
Well-run marketing meetings include a presentation or slide deck of some sort with key metrics, goals, and progress toward those goals to share with the team. But for those members joining in remotely, your marketing manager running the meeting and projecting slides can open up a Google+ Hangout with the remote attendees and do a simple screenshare. This way, everyone in the meeting can easily pay attention while also keeping those teammates who are off-site well informed. Or, if your CEO or colleague is on a business trip, you can still have one-on-one meetings to show them presentations or other projects you're working on by starting a Hangout and sharing your screen!
As we mentioned in our recent post, "How to Run Marketing Team Meetings That Don't Suck," an effective marketing meeting needs an agenda. But you know the one flaw about those perfected agendas? People forget about them. Once you're even 5 or 10 minutes into a meeting, everyone forgets there was a certain schedule to stick to. That's why the Hangouts sync with Google Docs is so valuable. Google+ Hangouts are automatically connected to your Google Docs, allowing you to open documents, spreadsheets, presentations, etc., and showcase them on the screen as you video chat. Having the agenda in sight reminds members that there is a certain schedule of topics to adhere to and review, keeping them on their toes. Users can also see the meeting notes as they are typed, and can also contribute to them if necessary.
In addition to making your team more aware of your meeting's agenda, Hangouts can help you present certain analytics you continuously track using a spreadsheet (such as your finances or month-to-date progress toward your leads goal), and enable you to review those numbers together. Or, if you're simply working with someone else on a presentation for an upcoming meeting or event, you can build it collaboratively via Google Presentations and then transfer the documents to your preferred presentation software such as PowerPoint or Keynote later. That way, if either of you has an idea to add to or alter the presentation, you can make the change or add a note right then and there rather than taking the risk of forgetting about it later. This eliminates time-wasting back-and-forth and lets group members work together efficiently!
Don’t you hate when you’re in a meeting, someone needs to leave, so she interrupts the speaker to excuse herself? Me too. Instead, keep your meeting's Google+ Hangout open whether the meeting is virtual or in-person. That way, attendees can easily excuse themselves by leaving a note in the chat pane, and exiting without interruption. This tool can also come in handy if you want to direct meeting attendees to a specific link, or if the meeting you need them to send you any piece of information, such as a phone number or address.
If you're team is hosting a guest or speaker, either at an event or in-person, you can also use Google+ Hangouts so people not attending in person hear and see what's going on, and communicate via chat.
Watching videos of cats running into walls is funny -- but it's even funnier when you do it with others! But on a more serious note, video marketing is still alive and well. If someone on your team has been working on your next case study, product video, or music video, but has the video unlisted to the public for the purpose of continued editing, he/she can share progress with other members of your team by easily connecting to YouTube. (Of course, if the video hasn’t reached this stage, you could always use screenshare to show what you have saved on your computer).
Another benefit of the YouTube sync in Google+ Hangouts is, when you're browsing YouTube, you sometimes stumble upon a video that either inspires you or illustrates a message in a compelling way. Instead of trying to describe this to your colleague later or trying to convince your videographer how awesome it was, you can use the Hangout button under "share" right from within YouTube to easily watch the video with another person virtually.
Sometimes a meeting can be enhanced by just a bit of FUN! At HubSpot, our marketeering team (marketing + engineering) has members who sit in all different parts of the office, work on different schedules, and some who even work off-site -- in other countries! Thus, they host their daily team update using Google+ Hangouts and have a whole lot of fun with the seasonal effects. Sometimes mustaches make an appearance, and sometimes they sport reindeer antlers and noses! While these silly effects hardly serve any "business" value, who doesn't benefit from a little fun at work now and again? While chatting using these effects, why not take screenshots and share them on your social media platforms? It shows off your brand's personality, and hey -- nothing bad can come from showcasing how happy your company's employees are.
The "Extras" we mentioned above aren't the only apps you can add to your Google+ Hangouts. There is also a doodle screen (for design brainstorms?), a SlideShare app (for showing final projects?), and many others. Google+ gives you quite a few options, so be sure to customize your Hangouts for your company's optimal use.
Are you using Google+ Hangouts for your business? If so, how?