Google plus hasn’t displaced Facebook, but it may actually be useful for your next videoconference. The Hangout feature is an easy and highly accessible way to videoconference. Don’t let the casual-sounding name fool you—it has the potential to be an invaluable professional tool. If it’s good enough for the White House, it’s probably good enough for you:
Long before Google plus became a reality, people were already rolling their eyes at the idea. Professionals and amateurs alike were calling it an unnecessary service that merely added to an overcrowded pool of social media networks. And in some respects they’re probably right; circles that allow you to tailor which posts are broadcast to whom are an interesting idea, and the mobile connectivity is great, but these alone aren’t nearly enough to replace Facebook. And it just doesn’t seem like enough people care about the thoughtful privacy policies that Google plus offers and Facebook doesn’t.
The collective groans of the populace have shown in the lukewarm reception of the service. Compared to the established social networks, Google+ feels like a barren wasteland. There are millions of people registered for it, but how many of them actually use it?
Yet Hangout makes up for some of the disappointments of Google plus. This feature hardly reinvents the wheel, but it makes the wheel comfortable, sleek, and most importantly, painless. Since Google plus is fully integrated into Google’s services, anyone with a Gmail account can sign up for it easily. Then all that’s needed is a webcam. (Webcams are inexpensive and some laptops and computer monitors have them built in.) There is no download (except possibly a plug-in or two), no setup and no price.
As a fund-raising tool, videoconferencing can be used to host webinars, Q and A sessions or live interviews. You could also use the “show screen” option to show pre-made videos or presentations.
Hangouts have already been used in some interesting ways. The Hangout On Air function makes your conference viewable by anyone—streaming live. The implications of such a feature can be vast (some have used it for vlogging, live music, etc.). This is not to mention that the broadcast will stream on a connected Youtube account as well, further broadening the potential audience. The video is also automatically recorded, letting you use it for future events.
Hangouts are probably Google’s biggest plus (pun shamelessly intended), and they can help by adding interactive video to your next fundraising campaign.