It was revealed last week that Google+ has overtaken Twitter in the US as the second biggest social network. Whilst the prominence of Google+ is growing it is becoming more apparent that companies can no longer afford to neglect the platform from their social media marketing strategy. Brands should look past simply using Google+ for the SEO benefits and look at ways to engage with their communities.

They can do this by Google Hangouts, the group video chat feature on Google+. The feature is available to any brand page and allows up to nine people to ‘hangout’ and is a fantastic way of bringing conversations to life. Have a look at these 9 brands that are utilising Google Hangouts for engagement and exposure.

New York Times
The New York Times is a prominent force on Google Hangouts, frequently using the feature to engage with their audience, with topics ranging from foreign affairs to sport, to voter concerns to making pasta with Nigella Lawson. What makes their use of Hangouts unique is their use of the feature to broadcast breaking news stories, reaching and engaging with online audiences in a way that other platforms can’t.

Cadbury’s
The confectionary company were one of the first brands to realise the potential of Google+ as a platform, and their activities on Google Hangouts is continuously setting the bar for other brands, especially when it comes to launching a new product. For their launch of their Dairy Milk Bubbly Mint bar they invited 9 members of the Cadbury community to simultaneously taste the bar together for the first time on air.

Channel 4
Channel 4’s programme Bedtime Live used Google Hangouts to re-invent the ‘call in’ format, by encouraging views to connect with the show and ask questions via Google Hangout. The use of Google Hangouts is one of the latest moves of the broadcaster to make TV a more social experience.

NASA
NASA took Google Hangouts to meteoric new heights by hosting a Hangout from space, creating an out of this world experience with its audience. The three astronauts answered questions from the online community who have been interested to watch and ask questions to astronauts both on orbit and on the ground about everything from how to brush your teeth in space, to whether they believe in alien life.

Barack Obama

One of the best aspects of Google Hangouts is that it allows you to connect with your community and solidify your status. President Obama did this during his campaign trail last year when he hosted a Google Hangout to connect with supporters and take questions from voters. What Hangouts offer that other platforms don’t is a more personal sense of connection, which the President is able to utilise. For example, in one of his Hangouts he was able to actively win over a supporter of the opposing side live on air!

Dell
Google Hangouts is a perfect channel for customer services, as the audience can actively troubleshoot problems and brands can provide great customer service. Dell has already hosted a multitude of Hangouts, most of which were focused on customer service, with an official Dell to provide top-notch customer service.

ASOS
ASOS experimented with Google Hangouts for their winter campaign. The online fashion retailer hosted hour long ‘Shop-Along’ events. Each event was hosted by a different personality including model Charlotte Free, Rapper Azealia Banks and the US Editor Indigo Clark. The Hangouts consisted of the host answering questions live online, chatting about the latest looks and trends in fashion as well as interactively running through items on the ASOS website with their viewers.

Topshop
Topshop tapped into the vast online fashion community to stand out during London fashion week and give fans a model’s-eye-view of the event as part of their wider Google+ campaign. The Hangout connected fashion bloggers and fans with back stage access to the runway show and allowed them to engage with style icons such as Kate Bosworth, Pixie Geldof, models Rosie Tapner and Jourdan Dunn.

Glamour Magazine
The magazine used Google Hangouts not only to branch out from print and engage with fans in a new medium around their content but as a means of advertising. Whilst the Hangouts featured special guests and personalities, each of their Hangout campaigns was sponsored by a different company whose products were promoted subtly throughout broadcast.

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