You’re a content marketer, and you care about connection and collaboration. But you live in a remote village in Alaska, and you can’t just hop down to the local Chamber of Commerce when you need to pick up a little extra business.
Flying to conferences isn’t an option, either — your local airport is snowed in nine months a year (and when it’s not snowed in, it’s too expensive to fly to major cities for the best networking events).
You want to connect, and you need to do it virtually. So you need a connection tool that’s easy, fast, user-friendly and highly accessible. Google Hangouts are about to become one of the best tools in your online content marketing toolbox.
Picture a Google Hangout as an online gathering place where you can facilitate a virtual chat with nine of your closest pals. Then, imagine you can invite the entire world to take part in your conversation.
Or if you’d rather keep things private, you can have personal conversations, too.
Getting started with your own Hangout
Want to start your own Hangout? Just visit plus.google.com/hangouts.
From the Hangout home page, you can make sure your microphone and camera are working correctly, invite other people to your Hangout, and enable a live broadcast of your chat by enabling “Hangouts on Air.” Remember that everyone who wants to join your Hangout must be signed in to a Google account in order to participate.
Google Hangouts are quick and relatively easy to use. They’re also an incredibly powerful part of the Google+ tool suite. You can use Google Hangouts for everything from one-to-one connections to huge virtual chats, and everything in between. But what are the best ways to use them as a savvy content marketer?
Here are twelve ways to leverage Hangouts to make you a more productive (and better connected) content creator.
1. Use a Hangout to connect with your community
Warren and Betsy Talbot of Married with Luggage recently hosted an On Air Hangout to have an informal chat with their community. Participants could ask them questions via chat, and the Talbots’ vibrant video presence made the Hangout a total success. Married with Luggage fans are united by their drive to achieve their dreams, and the online chat allowed Warren and Betsy to have a deeper conversation with their community members about topics like motivation, taking action, facing fears, and The Art of the Ask. Their Hangout was automatically posted to the Married with Luggage YouTube account within minutes of the conversation’s completion.
2. Create video interviews as content (or research) for your blog, book, online products and membership sites
Facebook expert and social media consultant Andrea Vahl interviews online celebrities and thought leaders using Google Hangouts. Joining her for an interview is simple and painless, and she integrates the YouTube videos of her conversations into blog posts and email newsletters. Andrea is a thriving author and entrepreneur, and her valuable interviews are a big part of her success.
3. Provide valuable online coaching sessions
Sean Cook of HigherEdCareerCoach.com offers online coaching sessions using Hangouts. In his coaching sessions, Sean helps his clients work on their resumes, negotiate career changes, and use social media as an effective part of their job search strategies. Hangouts have become a regular part of his coaching toolbox, and he likes the Hangout technology so much that he’s considering using it to completely replace Skype (his previous choice for virtual coaching).
4. Offer online critique sessions
Guy Kawasaki recently started offering Makeover Critiques as part of an ongoing marketing effort for his latest book, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur — How to Publish a Book. Self-publishers in Guy’s community offer up their book projects (including book covers, titles, and social media presences) for critique and helpful feedback from the APE panel of experts. Check out Guy’s latest critique on the APE blog.
5. Hold meetings
Get back to basics by holding online meetings using Google Hangouts. If your team is scattered all over the world, a Hangout can provide a simple way to come together to discuss ideas, collaborate, make decisions, and share documents.
6. Launch an online game
Take your virtual meetings a step further, and create an online contest like Tea Silvestre, the host of the online reality show Prosperity’s Kitchen. Tea uses Google Hangouts as the main collaboration tool for this 12-week series, which teaches online entrepreneurs how to market themselves.
7. Provide killer customer support
You can use Hangouts to troubleshoot problems and provide great customer service. Using video chat can help build trust and rapport with your clients — they will love being able to see a real person on the other side of the call. You can even use the screensharing function to view your customer’s desktop, which is a huge plus for technical support reps, graphic designers, and web developers.
8. Host online launch parties
Use Hangouts to hold virtual launch events for your latest books or online products. Hangout parties are a fun and interactive way to let your long-distance fans get in on the fun! To add a little more excitement, throw in some contests (with great prizes, of course) and invite special surprise guests to join your Hangout. You can even create a virtual guestbook in Google Docs, so the partygoers can sign in and send you their congratulations and best wishes.
9. Solidify your expert status by holding live classes on your topic
The experts behind ChefHangout.com are using Google Hangouts as the primary tool for holding virtual paid cooking classes. Chefs from all over the world lead cooking classes for at-home students. Budding chefs can interact, ask questions, and cook right along with their instructions. With the technology of Hangouts, ChefHangout.com is transforming the way cooking classes work — a smart (and very profitable) undertaking!
10. Get accountability
If you’ve got an accountability partner for your business, and the two of you don’t live in the same city or town, Google Hangouts can be a great way to meet, discuss progress and problems, and brainstorm solutions. You can collaborate using Google Docs during your Hangout, or just share your screen to show your partner your latest project.
11. Give presentations
Need to give a virtual presentation to a client, and want to add a little flair? Use Google Hangouts to have interactive conversations with your prospects, share your screen, and integrate videos from YouTube that you can watch together during your Hangout.
12. Hold virtual office hours
If you teach an online course and you want to hold regular online office hours, Google Hangouts are the perfect tool. Facetime with you (the instructor) is a big selling point when you’re marketing an online course, so make sure you let prospects know you’ll be available for coaching and Q&A!
Your turn …
Here at Copyblogger, we’ve spent the last few weeks showing exactly why you should turn your attention to Google+ as part of your content marketing strategy. Author Rank is here, it’s real, and it’s incredibly important — so getting your Google+ presence off the ground might be the smartest thing you do this year.
If you’ve been dragging your feet about taking our advice, perhaps Hangouts can be a painless way to get your feet wet in the Google+ pool.
So fire up your account, invite a few friends, and let it all hang out. We’ll see you there.
About the Author: Beth Hayden is an author, speaker, and content marketing expert who specializes in working with small businesses. To find out how to get more traffic to your site by writing wildly popular blog posts, grab your free copy of Beth's report, How to Write Blog Posts That Go Viral.
Beth will also be attending the 2015 Authority Rainmaker event this May -- so make sure to come over and say hi when you arrive!