There has been a lot of buzz about Google+ Hangouts in the past week because of a series of updates that integrated Google's Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP), instant-messaging and video-conferencing services into the platform.
However, when you think about Google+ Hangouts, B2B marketing does not necessarily come immediately to mind. Even the word, hangout, conjures images of tweens dishing on the finer details of Justin Bieber's new hairdo—the exact opposite of consumers of B2B goods and services.
But can B2B marketers leverage the platform to their advantage? EConsultancy's David Moth thinks so. He cites Dell as an example of a B2B marketer using Hangouts well.
"[Dell] focuses on providing useful content for its customer base and in the past few months has hosted Hangouts on migration to Windows Server, IT management and one catchily titled: 'Learn how to Leverage Virtualization to Enhance End User Computing,' " Moth wrote. "Dell takes questions through G+ and Twitter using the hashtag #DellHangout allowing people to find out relevant information that is useful for their business."
So what are the best uses for Google Hangouts? Social expert Carla Froggatt of Steel City Marketing has some ideas. She suggested B2B marketers use Hangouts for product demonstrations, customer relations, market research, business meetings and video playback.
"One standout feature is Google+ Hangouts which is a multi-user video chat tool where you can hold video conference calls," Froggatt wrote. "Time is precious and missing out on clients due to conflicting schedules can be costly and frustrating. Sound familiar? Well, Hangouts has greatly helped to alleviate this problem."
Once you've figured out how you're going to use Hangouts, Marketo's Jason Miller provides some tips on the logistics of getting started. Setting up your event requires a lot of attention to detail, according to Miller.
"When setting up your event, make sure you check the 'On Air Event' so that you can both stream the live recording and record it to YouTube. Forgetting this one little step can cause complications with your Hangout later on," he wrote. "Add a keyword rich description of your event along with the topic and details around your participants and be sure to tag them as well. Make sure you have a quiet space for each participant and that each one has a pair of headphones."
Miller also offers tips on promoting your Hangout across social networks, tasks to complete the day of the Hangout, and what to do during and after the Hangout.
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