One of the most powerful tools in social media is Google Hangout.  Most people either underestimate how useful it can be or simply do not know how to use it.

Don’t get stumped.  Learn the steps and take your business to the next level.

This how-to will walk you through the basics of Hangout and get you started on your way to success.  Text is good.  Pictures are great.  But video rules.

Do I Need Anything?

Picture of Google

The first things you need are a Google+ account, a webcam, and a pair of headphones (any kind will do).  On the Home tab, you’ll see “Start a Hangout” on the top right of your screen.

The first time you start a Hangout, it will ask you to install a plug-in.  Once that’s installed you should be good to go.

Who Should I Invite?

There are a couple different ways to invite people to your hangout.  You can add people that are in your circles.  If you want to use Facebook or email, you can simply send people a direct link (instructions below).

Group of ladies having teaYou can invite friends that you can literally hangout with.  It’s fun to see people you wouldn’t be able to otherwise and just chat for a while.

Another option is to do a broadcast.  The number of people that can “attend” is unlimited.  One streaming webinar can be seen by thousands or even millions of people live.

If you do a live stream, the video is streamed simultaneously on YouTube and recorded.  A copy of your video is then emailed to you.

What’s Next?

If you chose a friend hangout, then just invite them and have fun.  You will see them on the bottom of the screen.

If you chose a broadcast, the video doesn’t officially start until you click the “Start Broadcast” button at the top of the screen.  You can have people you pick be on a panel and be able to actively participate in the broadcast.

The people you want to be in the hangout can be invited by using the link in the address bar.  DO NOT send this to everyone if you are doing a broadcast.  This link allows people to join and participate in the Hangout.

There is a specialized link for users you want to only watch the hangout.  This is usually shared on several social media platforms or used in email lists.

What Else?

There are many tools that can enhance the experience and professionalism of your hangout.  The Hangout Toolbox contains several of these tools.

One tool allows the panel (in a broadcast) to create a banner for themselves with their name.  There is even an option to put your county’s flag if there are multiple nations represented.

The chat is great, but it can only be used in Google+.  If you have invited people outside Google+, then it won’t really work for them.Picture of Google Hangout Broadcast

There are also numerous apps that can take your “Hanging Out” even further.

Interesting…

Like anything else, this takes practice.  Experiment with creating Hangouts and broadcasts to see what really works.

Change background scenery, clothes, mics, voice volume, and even computers to see what really works best.  Don’t get frustrated.  You’ll get it.

Learn how to use social media as a business tool.  Just keep Hanging Out, there’s really nothing else to it.

Jamie Bates