Yesterday Google unwrapped the Google+ Hangouts on Air to general public with relatively little fanfare. This is part of Google’s social strategy but the product has the potential to disrupt many startups in the space, especially the ones targeting consumers and SMBs. Google could flex their Youtube muscle to literally shove them away. Google+ hangouts are available as a part of Google+ from the beginning. Google+ Hangouts on Air takes it much further even offering an option to live broadcast on Youtube. Though this is significant from the point of view of their Youtube business in the long run, I am going to see it from the other side and talk about how SMBs can take advantage of this nifty tool.
First a brief background on some of the new features that comes with Google+ Hangouts on Air:
- Broadcast publicly. By checking “Enable Hangouts On Air,” you can broadcast your live hangoutâfrom the Google+ stream, your YouTube channel or your websiteâto the entire world.
- See how many viewers you have got. During your broadcast, you can look inside the hangout to see how many people are watching live.
- Record and re-share. Once you’re off the air, weâll upload a public recording to your YouTube channel, and to your original Google+ post. This way it’s easy to share and discuss your broadcast after it’s over.
These are some of the features that could help musicians, comedians, etc. but these features can be tapped by a larger section of SMBs to their advantage. In fact, I got an early access to Google+ Hangouts on Air and I am using it as a part of my research firm to run online panels. I already see many other uses for my organization. Since I see it as a great tool for SMBs at an affordable price (free), I thought I will list out some of the use cases here and open it up to the CloudAve community to suggest other use cases. This way all of us can benefit with this really nifty tool.
Some of the use cases that come to my mind are:
- In today’s world, we have a distributed workforce and a free tool like this can significantly help SMBs in their internal collaboration. Since Google+ is integrated with Google Apps, organization using the service can easily use Hangouts for internal collaboration. It’s integration with Gmail can extend this collaboration externally to customers, partners, etc.. I was expecting Salesforce to use DimDim acquisition to offer similar feature inside Chatter. They do have some real time chat and screen sharing capabilities but not a video collaboration tool like Hangouts. But I expect them to put DimDim technology to use soon.
- Hangouts on Air can be used for running Office Hours for customers. This gives the customers a personal face to face feeling and improves on the customer satisfaction bottom-line. This can also be used in the same way organizations use GetSatisfaction but with video.
- Hangouts on Air can be used for running webinars to educate customers and potential customers on the products and services offered by the businesses.
- Hangouts on Air can be used to run online panels with experts on various topics. A smart organization can even take the tool and run their own user/customer conferences.
- Hangouts on Air can be a good educational tool for reaching out to students. I know of many companies running coaching classes using Skype. Hangouts on Air is a much better tool to run this.
I could think of many other scenarios where this tool can be put to good use. I would love to hear from CloudAve readers on how they are using or planning to use this tool for their organization. There are many other tools available which offers similar functionality but this one excites me because it is free and it is integrated with Google Apps (which I use for all my professional use). I also see the dangers of putting all information with Google but it is a different discussion and in this post I want to focus on the use cases.