So I've been playing around with Google + for a while. Everyone and their brother seems to have been blogging on the subject so I've intentionally stayed away from discussing it here for a while. There are so many potential uses of Google+ that I could see happening that this will probably take more than one post to accomplish. Right off the bat, I don't think Google+ is a Facebook killer. I love it but I think (if they play their cards right) Google+ will try really hard to be Google+ and not try to be Facebook. At a quick glance of the site layout, it's hard to come to that conclusion but I think it's a direction Google needs to take things.

The most redeeming feature of Google+ to me?

Hangouts

This may not be utilized as heavy as it was in the first week or two but I firmly believe Google+ Hangouts was the biggest differentiator between it and...well anything like it. Here you could take your Google contacts and have a face-to-face conversation with someone. Amazing and fun.

Think of the customer service capabilities you could have with Hangouts. You could help lead tutorials or have face-to-face conversations with consumers as a brand. There are so many non-verbal cues that are completely missed via a phone call or IM that Hangouts could help overcome (for better or for worse). Dell is actually looking into this for their own company. I'm curious to see what Google rolls out as far as a hangout feature when they launch brand applications.

A Way to Branch A Hangout Past 10 People...

So our DIG team at Engauge wanted to try and capture a Hangout with a local startup. We have an awesome podcast mainly hosted by @reenazoid (which is much more polished than our Hangout) that inspired us to try experimenting with capturing a Hangout through something like Camtasia. What I learned through a G+ conversation thread was that Livestream also captured desktop presentations.

So we tried it out.

The beauty of Livestream is this (besides being live): they have a great social layer. So that way, while the show is going on, viewers can jump into conversation via Twitter, Facebook or Livestream itself and interact with the show.

For Customer Service...

Think about this from a brand perspective. You could have an exclusive chat with 'influencers.' On top of that, anyone interested could jump in and ask questions without being one of the exclusive 10 people on the Hangout. Page moderators could field questions as the show went on. The customer service touchpoints in that interaction would be legit.

Our own experiment, outside of having audio issues, I would call a success for a first go. The guys at a new startup GoRankem took the plunge with us on the Hangout. Below is how that trial run went. During the show we had listeners chiming into the conversation and giving us feedback on video and audio quality on their end. It was a really fun test of some new platforms. Huge thanks to @thewordpainter and @mattstech for taking the time to chat.

How else could you see Hangouts being used?

Watch live streaming video from engauge at livestream.com

 

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