Posted on July 16, 2013 by Aaron Johnson
Google+ tends to be the overlooked younger brother of social networking, but Google+ – particularly its “hangout” function – has a lot to offer your business. Google+ hangouts allow your team to chat simultaneously with up to 9 other Google+ users, but it can do much more than that. Imagine everything you could do while chatting on a live video stream! Google+ hangouts is a great tool for small businesses that want to bring in more customers. As a mechanism for growth, Google+ is tops.
To use Google+ hangouts, your business first needs a Google+ account. This is easy to get and a valuable tool for any business. Google+ even offers different options for different kinds of businesses. That means that a page serving as publicity for your small local business will look different from a page for a national product brand. Having an official Google+ page can also improve your search engine rankings, especially if you link your Google+ page to your company’s official website.
The closest comparison that can be drawn to a Google+ hangout is a Skype session, or perhaps even a face-to-face meeting. What makes Google+ hangouts different from Skype, however, is that you can chat with more than one person at once through a hangout. In fact, you can “hangout” with up to 9 other people in a Google+ hangout, as though they were all right there in the room.
To join a Google+ hangout, everyone logs in through their Google+ account and then you invite them to the hangout through your company account. After people join the chat through that invitation, all of their faces are visible at once via webcam, making it seem like you’re all in the same place. Google+ hangouts have a wide variety of uses for small businesses and can really help bring customers in the door.
One great use of the Google+ hangout feature is doing live product demos. Maybe you’ve recently received a new product that you want to tell your customers more about, or perhaps you have an older product that you think deserves a bit more attention. Do a product demo! Set up everything you need and invite some of your valued customers to log on and watch. Customers can ask questions as you go along because the whole set-up is live. While they may not be able to reach out and touch the product that you are presenting, a Google+ hangout-based product demonstration can be just as powerful in attracting customer attention to a product and to your business in general.
Inviting valued customers to take part in a product demo is also a great way to express how much you value their input and opinions. This makes the chosen customers that much more likely to come back to your business regularly, and even to purchase the product you demonstrated through Google+ hangouts.
Another way to use Google+ hangouts is as a way of offering great and personalized customer service. Some businesses make a point of logging on to Google+ at a certain time each week and just waiting around for customers to drop in and ask questions – kind of like a professor’s office hours in college. Customers can see that you are online and can request to hangout with your business. This allows them to ask you questions face-to-face, and gives them an experience equivalent to having come into your place of business to ask their question. Customers appreciate both the general availability of businesses that provide this kind of customer service, as well as the convenience of not having to make an extra trip to the store.
The hangout “on air” feature is a special tool offered through Google+. Essentially, this feature allows you to record a Google+ hangout. So, for example, if you were to do a product demonstration live for nine of your customers, you could also record that demonstration. That video could then be uploaded to YouTube or your Google+ page so that other customers could watch the demonstration at their convenience. This allows your company to multiply the number of people it reaches through any Google+ hangout – suddenly, a chat with 9 people has turned into video marketing to one hundred individuals. Some other things you can use Google+ hangouts on air for include:
The on air feature of Google+ hangouts really multiplies the reach of any video-based marketing. It also makes your Google+ video content available at the times that suit your customers. Maybe you have some loyal customers who would love to participate in your webinar, but want to do so at 2am. With Google+ hangouts on air, any time is a good time for customers to engage with your business.
One of the best ways to convert customers or to keep established customers coming back to your business is by showing that you care about their opinions. Crowdsourcing through Google+ hangouts is an ideal way to engage with customers, allowing them to offer feedback on your business’s services and products and helping your company to improve. In many senses, crowdsourcing is just the old-fashioned comments box gone live.
You can advertise your crowdsourcing efforts through your brick and mortar business as well as through your Google+ page. Let customers know that you will be setting up times to meet with groups and hear their feedback on your business. Customers today are very comfortable providing feedback through various social networking platforms, making Google+ an ideal way to solicit feedback. This kind of video-based crowdsourcing is similar to what a lot of businesses do today on Facebook: they pose a question and listen to their customers’ answers. In a Google+ hangout, customers can see that you’re really listening, and you have room to think on your feet, offering solutions and suggestions, and generally engaging with customer feedback on your business.
Google+ hangouts may seem like a cumbersome medium for building your brand, but as part of a larger, social media-based business growth plan, it can really work to increase customer traffic and involvement with only a limited investment. For example, if you know that 2pm on Thursdays is always a dull time in your store, it’s the perfect time to film a product demonstration through Google+ hangouts on air. You can use an otherwise profitless time to create something that is guaranteed to get you a great return on investment.
It is precisely this low cost for high return on investment that makes Google+ hangouts an ideal way to build you brand. And having an active Google+ presence will only improve your search results with this leading search engine. So let your customers know what your business is doing. And let your customers tell you what your business could be doing better. With Google+ hangouts, the conversation goes both ways. With Google+ hangouts, your company can go live and grow as you reach out to customers in a new and innovative way.