Google+’s multi-person, webchat tool, Hangout, just got pushed to the front of the line, with a variety of new features that make it more prominent and useful.
The biggest boost for marketers is the upgrade to the Hangout On Air system. On Air allows a person or brand to livestream a performance, chat or presentation to a large number of people. Right now, the service is only available to a select group of celebs like The Muppets and the Dalai Lama but it’s slowly rolling out to others with a large following.
With the new upgrade, broadcasting On Air will be completely self-service and it will have a record option thanks to YouTube. Press the record button when the livestream is underway and a recording will automatically be uploaded to your account.
Making a Connection
Google+ has also added the Hangout option to the bottom of every status update. The idea here is that some posts warrant more than just a quick text reply. See some exciting news? Click Hangout and the poster will get notified that you want to chat. If there’s already a chat in progress, you’ll see that on the post as well.
To spread the love even further, Google+ Hangout will soon be available through Google+ Messenger on first Android, then iPhones. You can also get desktop or mobile notifications when you’re invited into a Hangout.
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Finally, Google+ makes Skype even more irrelevant by adding voice calling for those without webcams. Calls to US and Canada are free and international calls range from .02 to .15 cents a minute.
What’s interesting about this, is that Google+ is making it easier to connect with others on a more personal level. When they first initiated the service, I laughed about their use of the term “face-to-face” but now I see it. On Facebook, data is important – status updates, photos, and likes — but Google+ feels like it’s more about the people behind the data. And look at me, sounding like I downed some Google Kool-Aid. Yikes.