Google Hangouts are growing in popularity and small businesses are finding all sorts of creative ways to use them. But, no tool is without downsides and Google is pretty good at sweeping those downsides under the rug, so let’s have a closer look.
Yes, you can use Hangouts for business purposes in many ways, from conferencing to training, from sales webinars to product creation. Any of those ideas can work really well, but for all of them you wouldn’t want restrictions as to who you could have on the Hangout with you.
That’s the nature of both of the downsides, the first one being that you have to have a Google+ account to be involved in a Hangout.
Many people have never even heard of Google+, let alone created and set up their profile account. If you don’t have an account, you are more likely to just click away and find something else to do than you are to open an account just to take part in someone’s Hangout.
Obviously, this is good for Google, because they most want to drive Google+ participation. If businesses don’t have enough clients or potential clients with G+ accounts, and they want to use Hangouts, it’s in that business’s interest to persuade more people to open an account – thereby doing Google’s promotions for them! (Good business example to learn from, but kind of a pain in the butt if you want to use Hangouts for business right away…)
Lucky for us, it tends to be more business-oriented people that use G+ anyway. It has a perception of being less like Facebook, and more of a business connection service. Fewer photos of cats and fewer posts about what people had for dinner, and more business-related topics.
Downside number two is a bit more of a problem: Only 10 people can participate in Hangout.
That’s fine for small client bases, or small coaching classes, but not so good if you have big numbers of clients, or want to hold a sales webinar for 100 people, for example.
But it’s not as bad as it might seem.
If you make the Hangout live, then while you can only have 10 people actually in the Hangout, you can send out invitation links to have more than that watch along.
Also, if you go for the live option, you can connect it with your YouTube channel and have it recorded and converted to a video, which again makes it available to others, albeit after the event.
It’s not clear whether this limitation is technical, or if Google is trying to maintain intimacy in their Hangouts. Either way, though, it’s a bit of a bummer for those wanting to host a larger event.
Will it stop Hangouts from growing further? Not likely. The service is filling a hole left by Skype (no face-to-face for more than two people at a time) and it doesn’t seem to be looking to compete with the likes of GoToWebinar, so maybe this is right where they want to be.
AND with the Hangout Plugin you can get around some of the limitations to the current Hangouts system to hold webinars, capture information from attendees, and have more people attending your events. It’s a great alternative to using an expensive monthly fee webinar service. Check it out 😉