A Google hangout is a group video chat feature on Google+. The feature is available to any brand page and allows up to nine people—plus a host from your business—to chat.
You can invite specific users to your hangout, or make it public. The first nine people to enter can claim hangout spots. Once your chat is over, you can post a recorded stream of your hangout to your YouTube channel.
Businesses large and small are taking advantage of the new feature in all sorts of creative ways. The U.S. Open tennis tournament hosted a live hangout from the men’s final where Kevin Skinner, a broadcaster, and retired pro Taylor Dent interacted with fans around the world. They did the same for the women’s final, and placed the entire event on the U.S. Open YouTube channel.
This is a top way for businesses to earn loads of YouTube views, and even more attention via word of mouth. Want to get started?
Here are six more examples for inspiration:
1. Call in the experts (Asos)
Enlist help from a few well-known experts. That’s what Asos did in early August when it hosted a one hour “shop-along” with two fashion experts. An important lesson from this hangout was that there was no audience interaction. Instead, there was a moderator who probed the two experts for shopping advice, making the video they created serve as a recorded, impromptu webinar.
2. Host a Q&A (The New York Times)
The New York Times hosts hangouts with Olympic athletes, political pundits, sources, and reporters. The format of these chats is live Q&A, and the questions come from regular citizens.
One quick lesson: After you post your hangout to YouTube, embed the video on your home page.
3. Do live product samplings (Cadbury UK)
Cadbury invited members from its Tasters Circle to sign up to taste of some of the chocolate maker’s new products. Cadbury sent three new chocolate bars to everyone who signed up, and awarded nine lucky participants the chance to participate in the live On Air Taste-Off.
The results were stellar. The post announcing the winning bar received 126 +1s and was shared 24 times, while the recording received 73 +1s and was shared six times.
4. Host a giveaway (Taylor Guitars)
To build interest in its brand, Taylor Guitars teamed with Daria Musk for a series of concerts and live guitar giveaways. These hangouts sparked interest and then some, winning more than 500 views on YouTube.
5. Launch a product (Taylor Swift)
Taylor Swift hosted a hangout to announce her new album. Once she made the announcement, she answered questions from around the world, told people what to expect from the record, and even debuted the album’s first single.
6. Serve your customers (Dell)
Dell has hosted dozens of hangouts already, using them for customer service, sales calls, industry discussion, and more. Its multifaceted approach shows just how much your business can do with a Google hangout.
One takeaway: Dell empowers its employees to host these hangouts from their personal Google+ pages. Any business can do this while still hosting live hangouts from its official brand page.
Frank Salatto is a writer at Vocus, where a version of this article originally appeared.