The Digital Hangout(s) by Raaha Barrow

This year, I opted for online summer courses. Aside from my digital marketing course, I am taking an Information Security class that is completely online. The instructor announced that we would have introductions on google Hangouts as well as a project that will be presented on google Hangouts.  I was quite surprised given that I use Hangouts to message my family through the day and to webcam with my sisters and didn’t see it as anything more than a nifty communication tool. However, after seeing how well the virtual introduction worked, I started to wonder if other organizations or companies could utilize this tool in the same way and decided to do some digging.       

In order to get an overview of all that you can do with Hangouts in general, I went to Google. It was through there that I learned more about Hangouts, but also discovered Hangouts On Air.  For Hangouts, along with the web cam capabilities you can make free phone calls within US and Canada, and share links, websites, or google drive files. You can also use it from your mobile device, add some features of it to your Outlook email, and even integrate non-Google systems like VidyoH20 and BlueJeans. With Hangouts On Air you have all of the same benefits plus you can record and edit videos.

So what can you really do in terms of marketing?  Some key suggestions that I discovered were create promotional videos ranging from meeting tips to product demonstrations, hold Q & A sessions to engage customers and to host service calls to resolve customer questions and provide guidance to help them understand products or services. These are just a few ideas but the possibilities are endless. Digital strategist Sandy Sidhu found another use for Hangouts, which is to host webinars. Sandy helps entrepreneurs and small business owners from a site called “coaches to creatives” master online marketing.   She feels that it’s a better option for this segment for a few reasons. For one, you can have unlimited viewers on Hangouts, unlike webinars which generally have limits and require more funds for more viewers. Beyond this, Hangouts Air provides other essential capabilities like screen sharing, and automatic recording to YouTube.  When looking at the benefits it makes sense for business professionals to make the switch, especially if money is a concern.

A key aspect of marketing is keeping up with the trends and meeting your customers where they are. When considering this, Hangouts makes a perfect platform since it is popular and continues to gain more traction. It is also very secure and all conversations and videos are encrypted.  Hangouts is free and Hangouts On Air is a lower cost option in comparison to other video platforms, so if you are thinking about web cam or video consider this.