Google Plus.  Sure, you know it exists, just like Kopi Luwak coffee.  But that doesn’t mean you’ve tried it. After all, isn’t $600 / pound coffee still, in the end, just coffee? Well, sure it is. And Chopin was just a piano player. In many ways, G+ surpasses all other social media networks, as it offers a unique pairing of all things Google in a platform made to assist a remote workforce.  

GOOGLE+ blog graphic

There was a day when flex time was a radical new concept. Nowadays, many startups consist entirely of remote staff members. Almost five million Americans work from home some or all of the time. A significant downside to remote work, for the employee in particular, is being left out of the company culture. Emoticons aren’t going to cut it when it comes to subtleties, inflection and intent.  

Google+ has that covered. G+ Hangouts and Hangouts on Air (HOA) provide you with the ability to connect unite your remote team into a vibrant, collaborative workforce. Google has cleverly made G+ hangouts an integral part of their overall work tools. With recent changes in the platform, “Apps for Work” is completely separate from Google “My Business.” And that’s a good thing. My Business reflects how your business is discovered and ties in Google reviews, maps, G+ posts, photos and hangouts. Apps for Work is a $5/month suite, which gives you access to GMail, Calendar, Drive and Docs, along with Sheets, Slides, Sites and Hangouts. Brilliant!

In general, hangouts have room for ten people. If you decide to spring for the $5 a month for Google Apps, then you can have as many as fifteen participants in on the conversation.

Even though you are not physically together, a hangout is a bonding experience.  When you can look someone in the eye (albeit via webcam), it breaks down barriers and creates a comfortable workspace.  Conveniently, colleagues can work together in real time through the apps that work seamlessly within the hangout.  

Fully encrypted and broadcast in HD, a G+ hangout is a meeting place for problem-solving and ideation. Coworkers can share screens, draw on their projects, and train together. Some businesses create private G+ Communities and, in tandem with Hangouts, have use of a free, or practically free, project management workspace.

G+ Hangouts can also be used to interview candidates, onboard new hires and even conduct training. You can have just a standard hangout, which means when everyone exits the hangout, it ceases to exist; there is no record of what happened in that hangout. However, if you choose to conduct an “HOA” (Hangout on Air), your hangout will livestream on YouTube channel and on your G+ page.  You can share the HOA link across all your social channels.

Conduct a private HOA and it will be on your YouTube channel unlisted so the public won’t see it until you’ve finished editing it. You can even separate the audio from the video and create a podcast. The opportunity to repurpose content is endless.

Plus, a G+ Hangout is a very personable and innovative way to preview a product or conduct a focus group. 

Step up your customer service game and offer G+ Hangouts. For technical support, your reps can activate the screen share option and actually see what is happening on your customers’ end. The tech could walk customers through their problems, without having control of their screens.

Let’s say your business makes blenders. Invite a few some customers or prospects into a hangout so you can demonstrate the functionality of your latest and greatest model.

G+ Hangouts have been used for such diverse activities as editing photographs, showing concerts, painting and cooking. Even with a session of 10-15 people inside the hangout, you also have the option of letting others watch and learn (without participating). You even have the chance to make your own TV show all about your brand.

Considering the fact that hangouts and hangouts on air can be launched and joined from any computer, smartphone or tablet, this feature gives you plenty of options to relate to your employees and your customers.

In short, how can G+ hangouts benefit your business?

  1. Redefine your help desk
  2. Connect remote workers
  3. Create a robust platform for effective collaboration
  4. People buy from people they know; customer service hangouts take the anonymity out of a telephone call, and can brand your business as friendly, knowledgeable, and available.
  5. Broadcast your message in a video press release or town hall meeting hangout, which will stream on YouTube and be available to the world.
  6. Because Google hangouts are integrated with Google Calendar, attendees will get a reminder about the event and the URL to take them right to it.

G+ in general can help your business be discovered; A G+ hangout is your chance to build your brand and motivate your team. It kind of makes the Kopi Luwak coffee sound a little less crazy now, doesn’t it?