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Hangouts-Logo By far the most exciting and feature-rich free tools provided by Google+ are Hangout Video Calls and Hangouts on Air.

Here are 10 ways to use them in your business.

1- Paid consulting: Hangouts on Air can be public or private, paid or free. If you’re using a HOA for consulting, you send the link to join the Hangout when you receive payment. Only those people who have the link to the video, which will be on YouTube as private, can watch the video.

2- Create video content from interviews conducted in Hangouts and post them on your website, blog, Facebook, Google+ and Twitter streams, in email, and in playlists on your YouTube channel

3- Meetings – Hangouts on Air allow you to include presentations, screen shares, and a variety of collaborative tools live, in real-time with up to 9 other people who can be included in the filmstrip. There is no limit to the number who can watch and ask questions via Comment Tracker during a live meeting.

4- Customer service – Hangouts are a great way to provide one-to-one customer service and a great alternative to chains of emails and attachments.

5- Product demonstrations – You can use multiple cameras and locations in a Hangout on Air to demonstrate products and take questions from viewers. The Showcase app for Hangouts also lets you take orders from within a Hangout.

6- Mobile hangouts from live events – while you can’t start a Hangout on Air from a mobile device (yet) you can use a mobile device to join a Hangout, allowing you to broadcast from an event.

7- Online courses – Hangouts, recorded and made available via YouTube, are tailor-made for teaching and interaction with students. You also can use them to hold Office Hours when students can rotate in and out of a Hangout filmstrip to ask questions.

8- Press conference – Hangouts are ideal for press events, and are being used by The White House, NASA, and many businesses. The Showcase app, which allows inclusion of documents, presentations, spread sheets and links to websites and videos, is the next step in interactive press events.

9- Job interviews – Hangout video calls or Hangouts on Air provide a simple way to interview job candidates, have them meet staff members, and answer their questions about the position.

10- Webinars – Hangouts on Air are a feature-rich replacement for GoToMeeting, Adobe Connect and other expensive webinar platforms. Those companies are surely shaking in their boots right now.

If you’re not already using Hangouts, here’s what you need to know:
There are 2 kinds of Hangouts:

  • Hangout/Video Calls – private video chats on desktop or mobile for up to 10 people. Can be initiated via Gmail or Google+, Chrome extension. All you need to use them is a quick download of the Hangout https://www.google.com/hangouts/

These cannot be recorded and can only be joined by those who are invited.

  • Hangouts on Air (HOAs) are secure live broadcasts with up to 10 participants, broadcast live in HD and viewed on Google+ or YouTube from desktop or any connected device. They can be public or private, paid or free. They can be embedded in a website or blog, live or as a video replay.
  • HOAs are automatically recorded to your connected YouTube channel where they can be edited, branded and search optimized.

You must have a Google+ profile in order to be part of the video, but you do not need to have a Gmail account.

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Anyone can watch a HOA on YouTube or your website or blog, but they cannot be a guest in the broadcast or ask questions in real-time without a Google+ account.

Hangouts – which can be public or private, free or paid — offer important opportunities to expand your visibility, credibility and engagement with current and potential customers and referral sources. The features Hangouts provide make them a valuable alternative to expensive webinar services.

Hangouts are fully integrated into all Google services, from Google search to YouTube, Gmail, Pay-per-click, Analytics, Google Drive, Google Play, Google Wallet and more. Therefore, all Google services can be incorporated into Hangouts on Air.

The SEO advantage- Google search does not index Twitter or Facebook content, but it does index, and favor Google+ and YouTube content. This makes establishing a presence on Google+ important for your firm’s search visibility.

You have the opportunity, in the early days of Google+, to gain traction and establish your reputation as someone trustworthy and sharp.

Related:
- Google to reward users of Google+ Hangouts & YouTube Live Events with more prominent search placement
- New Google+ Showcase app adds game-changing business value to Hangouts on Air
- 6 Great Examples of G+ Business Hangouts on Air: from career counseling to Chinese classes
- Best Custom Video Backdrop for Google+ Hangouts, YouTube Videos

B.L. Ochman is CEO of Maximum-Plus.com which produces live events via Google+ Hangouts and YouTube streaming, and coaches businesses on how to use Google+. She publishes What’s Next Blog and is co-host of the award-winning Beyond Social Media Show, broadcast live, via Google+ Hangout, every Saturday at 12:30 pm EDT.