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We’ve been keen exponents of Google Hangouts for some time here at Econsultancy as they’re a great way of sharing content and promoting our brand.
Our head of social Matt Owen has become something of an expert on Hangouts as a result and yesterday blogged his tips for hosting a successful event.
Currently I feel that Hangouts are one of the few reasons for bothering with G+ as user interaction with brand updates is generally extremely low.
And on the same theme, here are six examples of other brands that have been experimenting with Google Hangouts...
Food website BakeSpace.com has made a name for itself online by hosting Hangouts sharing recipe ideas and giving people the chance to chat to celebrity chefs.
More than 450,000 people have the site in their circles - a huge number for G+ - and in comparison it has just 13,800 Facebook fans, which is quite an unusual ratio.
Food has always been a popular topic on social networks, particularly Pinterest and Instagram, so it makes sense that this success should transfer over to G+.
So far this month it has already hosted four Hangouts, including a chat with TV chef Brian Malarkey and another giving healthy Asian recipe ideas.
Most of the events are linked using the hashtag #KitchenParty which makes it easy for users to find other content from BakeSpace.
Cadbury is well known for its focus on social marketing and is one of the few brands that actually dedicates a lot of time to maintaining its G+ page.
It has hosted several hangouts in the past 12 months, including one to celebrate reaching 500,000 followers and another to let its community ask questions to Olympic swimmer Rebecca Adlington.
One of the most interesting examples was its Tasters Circle Hangout in which invited members of the Cadbury Taster group chatted with a Cadbury product developer, commented on their own chocolate preferences, and sampled various Cadbury products live.
Cadbury social manager Jerry Daykin previously shared his best practice tips for Google+ with us. He said that Hangouts are a key feature and a powerful way of letting users have a very direct connection with your brand.
We’re looking at how we collaborate with fans in a hangout or give them opportunities they otherwise wouldn’t get, like challenging an Olympian to a game.
Clothing retailer ASOS has hosted several ‘Shop-along’ Hangouts in the past year with various stylists, bloggers and celebrities.
Users are invited to attend the Hangout one at a time and are given two minutes of fashion advice from the other attendees.
It also manages to sneakily monetise the Hangouts by flashing up product suggestions complete with links to its ecommerce site.
These Hangouts fit perfectly with the ASOS brand and are a great way of giving something back to its customers, with the obvious benefit of encouraging them to stock up on ASOS clothes to complete their suggested look.
Dell is frequently highlighted as an example of a B2B brand that has been quick to take advantage of the marketing opportunity presented by social media and that extends to its use of Google Hangouts.
It focuses on providing useful content for its customer base and in the past few months has hosted Hangouts on migration to Windows Server, IT management and one catchily titled: “Learn how to Leverage Virtualization to Enhance End User Computing.”
Dell takes questions through G+ and Twitter using the hashtag #DellHangout allowing people to find out relevant information that is useful for their business.
This is a great example of how B2B brands can use Hangouts to interact with their customers and build loyalty without going for the hard sell.
In April Glamour ran a month-long experiment aimed at monetising Google Hangouts by selling sponsorship and featuring each sponsor’s products during the event.
The brands involved included La Crema, SlimFast, Pantene and L’Oreal. Glamour stylists and guest bloggers discussed the products and test them out during the Hangouts.
As yet I’ve not seen any stats on whether it was a success, but if the sponsors are happy then it could be format we see more of over the coming months.
Coca-Cola actually has a fairly inactive G+ page and now goes weeks and sometimes months without posting anything.
However in the past 12 months it has hosted Hangouts with one of Coke's ‘super fans’, the Coke racing team and singer Jason Derulo, which offers fans a unique opportunity to engage with the brand and its ambassadors.
Earlier this month it hosted a Hangout with Mexican pop group Rio Roma, but as I don’t speak Spanish I’m afraid I can’t tell you what they discussed.