That’s the short answer, but perhaps not as informative as it could be, so lets take a look at the development of the service, and why it makes sense to carry on with it.
As social networking sites grew in usage – most notably Facebook – they allowed businesses as well as individuals to interact. This new business usage has driven profits up, so it was inevitable that the other big online players would want to get a slice of that action. Google was no exception, because if they had simply ignored the issue they would have been left behind.
If you’ve been paying attention over the last few years, you’ll know that the big G has tried and dropped more than a few ideas. Google Buzz and Google Wave make the top of the list of abandoned social networking ideas, and the recent phasing out of Google Reader has bloggers in a tizzy this month. It’s completely understandable that when Google+ was launched it received a cool reaction, with people just viewing it as just another weak attempt to catch up.
Although it didn’t catch on with individuals, it *did* catch on with businesses, which in turn drew more individuals in. In fact Google+ has quietly grown, under the radar, to become one of the biggest social networks online.
The Hangout service got a similarly cool reception, viewed as no more than a Skype copycat. After some tweaks to functionality, the improved Hangout feature has now turned into a resource which can be great for businesses.
You have to be a Google+ user to take part in Hangouts, and while that was originally seen as a downside, the fact that Google+ is now so well-used has turned that into a plus, because it means you can tie in with a huge existing social network.
A Hangout is pretty quick and easy to use, and it allows you to connect with existing clients, and get new clients by hosting webinars.
(Sidenote: don’t forget to send us the recording for a transcript afterward 😉)
Training, customer service, all sorts of customer interaction can now be done on video via this social network, plus you have the option of integrating and putting your recorded Hangout video straight onto YouTube – an advantage of Google buying YouTube and an easy way to add content to your channel.
So despite a slow start, which had critics dismissing it as another desperate attempt at catch up, it seems like it’s here to stay.
Sure, there could be a few more features… that’s where cool tools and plugins like the Google Hangout Plugin come in handy. You can maximize the benefits of Hangouts by sending people through your website, and you’ll have unlimited seats and an unlimited number of events. Major game changer to have a service like that with no expensive monthly subscription cost. And with as many recordings that cross my computer screen each day, I can tell you that the recordings quality from these events are equal to many of the most popular webinar services.